Violence continues in Bangladesh capital as students protest


The US embassy confirmed an official vehicle "was attacked by a group of armed adult men" but the envoy and her team departed unharmed.

Bangladeshi students stand on a road amid tear gas during clashes with the police in Dhaka on Sunday.

The police denied they fired rubber bullets or tear gas at the protesters.

And road transport minister Obaidul Quader rejected allegations that party cadres from the ruling Awami League party had attacked the students.

He said the party office, which is close to Jigatala, was vandalised by unidentified youths in school uniforms moments before the clashes erupted.

Bangladesh has witnessed massive student protests over the past several days, after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus in the capital Dhaka on July 29. It also said the government should ensure that security forces respect basic human rights standards on the use of force, including in dispersing demonstrations.

But officials have made it clear they wants the protests - which have embarrassed the government of Sheikh Hasina - to end immediately.

Bangladesh's transport sector is widely seen as corrupt, unregulated and unsafe. Furthermore, they call for harsh punishments for traffic violators, including the death penalty for reckless drivers.

The education ministry shut down high schools on Friday in an effort to quell the unrest. Still, the anger hasn't subdued.

A Bangladeshi child holds a placard as she participates with protesting students in Dhaka
A Bangladeshi child holds a placard as she participates with protesting students in Dhaka

So far they stopped flag cars carrying senior cabinet ministers, Supreme Court judges alongside police and military vehicles to verify their drivers' valid papers and uploaded the pictures of the scenes on the social media when they were found to have lacked the licenses.

The protests, which began last Sunday after two college students were struck and killed by a pair.

Students were holding a sit-in at Jigatola intersection and chanting slogans like, "We want justice!" when police started firing tear gas shells.

Earlier the embassy had criticised the police crackdown on the protesters, whom it described as having "united and captured the imagination of the whole country". "Previous protests in Bangladesh have turned violent, resulting in traffic disruptions, injuries, and deaths".

The government warned of tough punitive actions against instigators of student demonstrations.

Abdur Rahim, a leader of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation, said bus operators would stay off the streets until security improves.

The BCL were also blamed for attacks on journalists - including the destruction of phones and cameras - which the Daily Star newspaper called a "reprehensible violation" of press freedom.

Many powerful ministers have requested the students to go back to their classes as the unique teen protests could turn into an extended anti-government protest before elections which are due later this year.

More than 4,200 pedestrians were killed in road accidents in Bangladesh in 2017, a 25 per cent increase from 2016, according to the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, a private research group. At least 12,000 people die each year in road accidents in Bangladesh.

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