News24

1 killed in Bangladesh protest

2012-04-23 15:59

Dhaka - One demonstrator was killed and more than 20 police injured in Bangladesh on Monday as officers fought to control a crowd of 10 000 people protesting over the disappearance of opposition leader Ilias Ali.

Police said mobs armed with sticks and stones set fire to a local council building and attacked a police station in Sylhet, home to Ali, a prominent Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) figure who has been missing for six days.

"There were more than 10 000 protesters. They attacked policemen and tried to besiege a police station. We've fired rubber bullets and tear-gas shells to disperse them," Sylhet police chief Shakhawat Hossain said.

He added that one man was killed and more than 20 police officers were injured in the clashes, four of them seriously.

Shomoy, a private television channel, said at least 100 people had been hurt in the violence.

Rights groups have blamed Bangladeshi security agencies for the disappearance of dozens of opposition activists over the past two years, alleging the victims have been abducted on government orders.

Schools, businesses closed

Police found Ali's car abandoned in an upmarket district of the capital Dhaka on Tuesday night. His driver is also missing.

Ali, a regional head of the BNP, is the highest profile opposition politician to have "disappeared" since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League party took power in January 2009.

The BNP has accused the elite Rapid Action Battalion of abducting Ali, an allegation that the force and the government have rejected.

Sylhet also saw brief clashes on Sunday, the first day of a nation-wide strike called by the BNP and its allies in protest at Ali's unexplained disappearance.

In Dhaka, the streets were empty on Monday and businesses and schools were closed for the second day of the strike, while thousands of policemen were deployed to prevent violence.