Bangladesh politician abducted amid unrest

2015-02-24 21:01
(Munir Uz Zaman, AFP)

(Munir Uz Zaman, AFP)

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Dhaka - A prominent Bangladesh opposition politician was abducted on Tuesday, allegedly by police, days after he appeared to say he was open to seeking military intervention to end the country's deadly political crisis.

The family of Mahmudur Rahman Manna, 63, who has been trying to forge an alternative third political force in Bangladesh, said he was picked up by plain-clothed police officers from his niece's home in the capital Dhaka.

"There were four to five men. They said they were from the DB [police detective branch]. They asked him to go with them," Manna's niece Shahanama Sharmin told AFP.

"They led him away on a micro-bus at around 03:30," she added.

The abduction is the latest twist in weeks-long turmoil led by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies in efforts to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and force fresh elections.

Confined by authorities to her office on 3 January, BNP leader Khaleda Zia called on supporters to block roads, railways and waterways, sparking a wave of violence that has claimed more than 100 lives.

Over 10 000 opposition supporters and dozens of senior BNP officials have been arrested as part of a crackdown by Hasina to end the unrest.

Police denied they were behind the abduction of Manna, who has also been calling for talks between the government and the BNP to resolve the crisis.

"We don't have any information regarding his detention or arrest. None of the branches of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested or detained him," police spokesperson Monirul Islam said.

An audio recording of a phone conversation between Manna, an opposition official and an unknown third person was leaked to local media late on Sunday.

Manna can be heard telling the unidentified person that he was open to talks with generals in a bid to resolve the crisis gripping Bangladesh, a country with a history of military-backed coups.

According to news portal, Manna and the unidentified person discussed plans to meet top army officers.

Manna has admitted to the phone call, but denied supporting any military takeover.

Bangladesh's powerful military has publically denied speculation it plans to overthrow the government, which it did in 2007.

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