2 BNP men shot dead in Noakhali
At least two people were killed, scores injured, and as many as 20 vehicles torched and some more vandalised on the second day of the nonstop countrywide blockade enforced by the BNP and its allies.
Blockaders clashed with police and pro-government activists, and exploded crude bombs in several districts yesterday, resulting in the arrest of dozens of BNP-Jamaat men.
The disruption in road communication across the country continued for the third consecutive day.
Train and launch services, however, were normal, like on Tuesday.
On Monday, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, confined to her Gulshan office since Saturday night, called for the blockade after she was barred from attending a rally to observe "Democracy Killing Day" on the first anniversary of January 5 polls that her party had boycotted.
Meanwhile, the BNP-led alliance has called hartals in Noakhali, Jessore, Sylhet and Barisal districts for today, protesting Khaleda's confinement and killings and arrests of its leaders and activists.
Two pro-BNP men were killed, at least 20 more injured, five motorbikes torched, and five battery-run auto rickshaws and a bank office vandalised as the district saw the worst of yesterday's countrywide violence.
Both the dead -- Md Rubel, 28, of Senbag upazila's Shibpur and Md Mohsin, 29 -- were activists of the BNP's youth front Jubo Dal, according to Kamakhya Chandra Das, general secretary of the district unit Jubo Dal.
Blockade supporters were rampaging through Chaumohani Rail Gate area in Begumganj upazila yesterday evening, said ASM Ashrafuzzaman, additional superintendent of Noakhali police.
When police reached the spot, the blockaders started pelting the policemen with brick chunks and stones, forcing the law enforcers to open fire, he added.
The injured were rushed to Noakhali Abdul Malek Ukil Medical College Hospital where Rubel and Mohsin were declared dead.
Kamakhya claimed they had brought out a peaceful procession in support of the blockade but police intercepted and opened fire on them.
However, Superintendent of Noakhali Police Ilias Sharif told The Daily Star that it was the blockaders who fired the shots first and police only retaliated.
He also claimed that seven policemen were injured in the violence.
Fourteen BNP-Jamaat men were detained in this connection as of 10:50pm and drives were on to arrest more.
The local BNP is enforcing a daylong shutdown in the district today to protest the killings.
At least seven vehicles were torched in the capital yesterday.
Unidentified criminals, presumably blockade supporters, set fire to a bus of the public administration ministry in front of Motijheel Krira Bhaban around 6:15pm.
Fire fighters rushed to the spot and doused the blaze. No casualty was reported.
Criminals also set fire to a bus in front of Bahadur Shah Park in Old Dhaka around 6:40pm, one near Azimpur Bus Stand around 7:00pm and another at Shewrapara in the morning.
Apart from these, two more buses were torched in front of Mirpur Indoor Stadium and in Khilkhet, and a sport utility vehicle was set afire in Segunbagicha last night, according to fire service officials.
Despite the arson attacks, traffic movement inside the city was almost normal, with its streets packed with all sorts of public and private vehicles.
A bus helper -- identified as Murad Mollah, 20, of Magura Sadar upazila -- was burnt as miscreants set his bus alight while he was sleeping in it early yesterday.
Officer-in-Charge Enamul Haque of Jessore Kotwali Police Station said a group of blockaders set fire to the bus parked at Khajura Bus Stand around 4:00am.
Police and fire fighters rushed to the spot and sent Murad, who suffered 50 percent burns, to Jessore Medical College Hospital, he said.
Another bus was torched near the bus stand around the same time. But none was hurt in the incident.
Two cases were filed against BNP Standing Committee Member Tariqul Islam and at least a dozen other leaders and activists of local BNP-Jamaat in connection with the arsons.
Demanding withdrawal of the "false cases", the local BNP is enforcing a daylong hartal in the district today.
At least 50 people, including 20 policemen, were injured in a clash between police and BNP men at Toragarh in Hajiganj municipality on Tuesday night.
Police and witnesses said BNP-Jamaat men damaged 30-40 motorcycles and rickshaws on Tuesday evening. When police advanced towards Pilot High School and College, the blockaders started hurling brick chunks and Molotov cocktails at the law enforcers who retaliated by opening fire.
A case was filed against 800 people in this connection.
Police arrested two pro-BNP councillors of Narayanganj City Corporation in connection with an incident of violence on Monday. The arrestees are Abdul Hannan Sarker of Ward 21 and Sultan Ahmed of Ward 22, police said.
Meanwhile, at least five lawyers were injured as pro- and anti-government lawyers engaged in a scuffle on Narayanganj court premises yesterday.
Reports on incidents of arrest, vandalism, and crude bomb and arson attacks came pouring in from Comilla, Sylhet, Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi, Chandpur, Netrakona, Gazipur, Feni, Moulvibazar, Rangpur, Jamalpur, Khagrachhari, Bogra, Barisal and Thakurgaon districts.
The Sylhet BNP yesterday called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the district for today to protest the "illegal confinement" of Khaleda Zia and arrest of BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
In Barisal, the district and the city units of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student front of Jamaat-e-Islami, called a half-day shutdown in the district for today, demanding immediate release of 14 leaders and activists of the units.
ANOTHER DEATH IN SIRAJGANJ
A man died in Ullapara upazila after the CNG-run three-wheeler he was travelling in went off the road, and fell in a ditch.
The victim, Ismail Hossain, 40, was the son of Shamsher Fakir of Janglidah village in Shahzadpur upazila.
With a severe head injury, Ismail was whisked off to Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital in Bogra. He died there around 12:30pm, police said.
There have been conflicting accounts as to what caused the accident, Superintendent of Sirajganj police SM Amran Hossain told The Daily Star.
Driver Shipon Mia told police that he had picked up Ismail along with three others from Sirajganj's Gol Chattar area and was going to Shahzadpur.
When his three-wheeler reached Shyamolipara on Nagarbari-Bogra highway around 7:00am, some pickets started hurling brick chunks at it. As the driver tried to speed away, the vehicle veered out of control and overturned into the ditch, SP Amran said quoting Shipon.
However, a passenger, who survived the accident, said the driver lost control due to hitting a rickshaw van in thick fog before the three-wheeler went off the road.