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Bangladeshi strike over missing activist leaves at least two dead

Monday, April 23, 2012
Reuters


DHAKA--A national strike called by Bangladesh's main opposition party demanding action over the disappearance of one of its young leaders shut down public transport and most businesses on Sunday and left at least two people dead in sporadic violence.

Police and witnesses said the scale of violence was less than feared during the day-long stoppage to press the government over the disappearance of Ilyas Ali, a former student leader and former lawmaker of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Police said a driver sleeping in a bus died overnight when activists set fire to vehicles in the capital. On Sunday, a man died after his car, pursued by strikers, hit a roadside tree.

Officials from the BNP, led by former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, said more than 100 of its supporters were injured and scores detained across the country.

Ali went missing with his driver on Tuesday. Police recovered his abandoned car and mobile phone near his home.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has ordered a probe into the disappearance, but the BNP and Ali's family allege he was abducted by security forces. Police deny the charge.

Activists called for the stoppage, in force from dawn to dusk, to resume on Monday.

“We are calling for another day-long strike on Monday and may go for further action if the government fails to find Ilyas Ali and produce him before the public immediately,” BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters.

State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque said authorities would deal firmly with violence.

The BNP and its Islamist allies have demanded the resignation of Hasina and early elections, which are not due to take place before the end of 2013. Khaleda accuses Hasina of instituting “virtual one-party rule” to remain in office.

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