Bangladesh strikes after eviction

Shutdown called by opposition closes schools and businesses after former prime minister was forced to leave her house.

A nationwide general strike has emptied the streets of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, and other cities a day after a suicide bombing killed three people and clashes between polioce and protesters injured more than 100 others.Businesses and schools across the country were closed on Sunday as a result of the shutdown called to protest against the eviction of Begum Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).The strike halted almost all transportation in Dhaka, a city of about 12 million people, just as the majority-Muslim country begins to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday. A police officer in Dhaka’s city centre told the Reuters news agency that the strike, the first of its kind since 2007, had so far gone peacefully, but that the police were prepared for trouble. Less than 24 hours earlier, police in Dhaka were firing tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of demonstrators protesting Zia’s eviction from the residence she has occupied at army headquarters for around 30 years. Suicide bombing
Violence erupted in more than 20 towns and dozens of people were injured in clashes with police. About 50 people were injured in Serajganj, 150km northwest of Dhaka, local television channels reported. At least three people were killed and five injured in a suicide bombing on Saturday at an opposition politician’s house, police said. According to authorities, the bomb was detonated at the residence of Afaz Uddin, an Awami League member of parliament, near Kushtia, 300km west of the capital Dhaka. Authorities would not say whether they thought the attack was related to the widespread violence over Khaleda’s eviction. Khaleda’s residence in the sprawling compound was leased to her by the government in 1982, after her husband and ex-president, General Ziaur Rahman, was killed in an abortive coup. They had lived in the house for several years.The current government of Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the prime minister, who leads the centre-left, secular Awami League party, cancelled Zia’s lease last year. They intend to build multi-storey buildings for families of army officers killed in a mutiny in a paramilitary unit headquarters in Dhaka.
Thousands protest
Several thousand protesters skirmished with police close to Khaleda’s residence in the garrison area on Friday as the deadline for the expiration of her lease approached. As Zia was driven from the compound, witnesses and security officials said up to 4,000 protesters armed with sticks and stones set fire to vehicles and attacked officers near the headquarters. “They broke the front door, cut the grilles and then broke open my bedroom door. They dragged me out and pushed me into a car,” Zia said during a live television broadcast, wiping tears from her eyes. “I was forced out with only one clothing. I was humiliated. They evicted me from my house breaking all rules and regulations. They also hit my family members. “I am not only humiliated but ashamed at the behaviour of the government. Now I seek justice from the people.” Khondaker Delwar Hossain, the BNP secretary-general, called for the strike, which was oppossed by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Zia and her centre-right BNP ran the Bangladeshi government from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first female prime minister in Bangladesh’s history. After Zia’s most recent term expired in 2006, an army-backed caretaker government took countrol under emergency law, which was ended in 2008 with Hasina’s election. Hasina had been elected once previously, in 1996.

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