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2 more dead in Bangladesh unrest; toll rises to 34\



Two more people, including a child, have been killed in fresh violence in Bangladesh pushing the death toll to 34, as anti-government protesters targeted several vehicles with petrol bombs in one of the worst attacks since the political unrest began earlier this month.

At least 40 people were injured, some critically, after protesters threw petrol bombs on a number of vehicles on Friday night in Dhaka and surrounding districts, police said.

Friday night's attack is considered to be one of the worst clandestine arson attacks since the political unrest gripped Bangladesh earlier this month while doctors described the wounds of nine of them"critical".

"The respiratory system of nine of the bus passengers were badly damaged in the arson attack. Their condition is more critical than the others," a doctor at the burn unit of the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) said. Witnesses said two youths simultaneously hurled two petrol bombs on the bus at Dhaka's Jatrabari area as it was heading towards suburban Narayanganj on Friday night and quickly fled the scene.

"The fire spread instantly and everyone was frantically trying to get out of the bus," a witness said. Another 11 people were wounded in nearly identical petrol bomb attacks on a bus and a truck in northwestern Rajshahi and Bogra late on Friday.

Meanwhile, the 20-party opposition alliance in Bangladesh has called for a general strike in the country, media reported on Saturday.

The opposition parties would enforce a 36-hour shutdown from Sunday morning, said Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, joint secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which leads the opposition alliance.

Rizvi urged activists of the BNP and allied parties to"peacefully" enforce the strike. The opposition alliance in Bangladesh led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's BNP had boycotted the general election in January last year and has been pressing for fresh elections since then.

An initial statement by the opposition said that the shutdown was to protest against the"hike in power tariff, large scale arrests of opposition activists and کgovernment conspiracies for sabotage".

However, another statement was issued later which said that the move was to protest against"government plans to raise power prices".

The BNP had earlier called a 48-hour strike in Dhaka and Khulna divisions from January 21. BNP chief Khaleda Zia announced on Monday that her party would continue the blockade of the country, ending hopes of a quick solution to the crisis that began with her being confined to her office earlier this month.


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