AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
DHAKA: Bangladesh police charged 28 opposition officials today including senior leaders over a series of bomb explosions at the weekend, as a nationwide strike again paralysed the country.
Police said they had raided the house of the second-highest leader of the opposition early today, secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir, and charged other senior Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) officials.
“Police raided Mirza Fakhrul’s house early today to arrest him. But he was not found,” deputy commissioner of Dhaka police Nisharul Arif said.
Nine small bombs rocked the capital Dhaka yesterday, including two explosions inside the Bangladesh Secretariat, home to most government ministries and the cabinet office where the prime minister leads weekly meeting.
No one was injured and damage was minimal.
The charges against opposition figures risk exacerbating a deepening political crisis in the South Asian country.
The BNP has been leading angry protests since one of its regional leaders, Ilias Ali, went missing on April 17 in a case it believes was an abduction by the security forces.
Police found Ali’s car abandoned in an upmarket district of Dhaka. His driver is also missing.
As well as the BNP secretary general, an ex-mayor of Dhaka and three members of BNP’s main decision-making body were also charged with yesterday’s explosions.
Police also arrested dozens of opposition activists in connection with the violence and torching of vehicles, Dhaka police spokesman Masud Ahmed said, adding that security had been stepped up.
Border guards have been deployed as reinforcement in addition to the 10,000 policemen on patrol across the capital, as a strike closed businesses for the fifth time in nine days.
One opposition supporter was shot dead late on Saturday, raising the death toll to four since last week.
Today, roads were empty, shops, offices and schools were shut while inter-district bus, lorry and ferry services were suspended.