Dhaka [Bangladesh], November 22: Unknown assailants have set fire to nearly 200 vehicles and establishments in Bangladesh after the country's major opposition party launched a series of anti-government protests last month to demand the installation of a non-party caretaker administration to oversee the next general elections in January.
The Fire Service and Civil Defence department doused some 197 incidents of arson involving buses, trains, cars and business establishment in different parts of the country since October 28, Talha Bin Jasim, spokesman for the department, said on Tuesday.
These incidents are being investigated, he said adding that the highest 95 arson cases were reported in the capital Dhaka.
Bangladesh is set to hold a national election on January 7 amid staggering street agitations like nationwide strikes and a transport blockade called by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former prime minister Khaleda Zia after its October 28 rally in Dhaka was aborted in the face of violent clashes.
The BNP, which rejected the election schedule, alleged that the government launched a crackdown on the opposition activists and implicated them in fabricated charges to keep the party away from the elections.
More than 17,000 opposition campaigners, including top level leaders of the party, have been arrested since the current spell of agitation began in October, BNP spokesman SayrulKabir Khan told DPA.
Some 61,598 BNP leaders and activists were accused in more than 700 criminal cases filed by the police in connection with the recent street protests, said Khan.
Prime Minister Hasina, who is eyeing for her fourth consecutive tenure in power, blamed the BNP and its allies for the arson attacks saying that good sense should prevail among the arsonists.
Source: Qatar Tribune