Two people died in fresh clashes between protesters and Bangladesh police yesterday, raising the death toll from protests against the visit of India’s nationalist leader to 13, officials said.
The protesters – mostly from the group Hefazat-e-Islam – were angry at the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Bangladesh marked 50 years of independence.
Five people died on Friday, and another six the next day, after police shot at demonstrators in several major districts across the nation of 168mn people.
Two others – a 19-year-old and a 23-year-old – died in the eastern district of Brahmanbaria after officers opened fire in clashes in the rural town of Sarail yesterday, a police spokesman said
“They (protesters) stormed a highway police station, torching it and injuring at least 35 policemen. Police opened fire in self-defence,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman did not say if the pair had been shot dead by police.
He said some 3,000 protesters, mostly Hefazat supporters, had blocked a highway and attacked police with bricks and stones.
Another person was feared dead, Sarail’s government administrator, Ariful Haq Mridul, said. Bangladesh’s home minister Asaduzzaman Khan called for the protests to be halted. “Our security forces are observing this with patience,” Khan told reporters yesterday.
“We think if this is not stopped, we’ll take necessary actions.”
At another protest in Narayanganj just outside the capital Dhaka yesterday, Hefazat supporters chanted “action, action, direct action” as they blocked the key highway linking Dhaka with the port city of Chittagong.
Hundreds of demonstrators burnt furniture and tyres on the roads as they chanted anti-Modi slogans and called on authorities to investigate the earlier shootings.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets after the protesters barricaded parts of the highway. A police spokesman said they had since left the road.
The country’s largest Bengali daily, Prothom Alo, said at least 15 people were injured in the Narayanganj clashes.
Bangladesh’s largest English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, reported that at least 10 people were injured when Hefazat supporters attacked a train carrying passengers from Dhaka to Chittagong.
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