7 killed in violence as blockade begins

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At least seven people, including a paramilitary soldier, were killed and several hundred injured as opposition activists battled with lawmen, attacked rivals, torched and vandalised vehicles and government offices and removed rail tracks on Tuesday to enforce a 48-hour rail-road-waterway blockade across the country.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance enforced the 48-hour blockade that began at 6:00am on Tuesday in protests against the announcement of the schedule for the 10th parliamentary polls by the Election Commission for holding ‘unilateral’ polls before reaching an understanding over the election-time administration.
The railway was made a major target of Tuesday’s vandalism as protesters uprooted tracks, removed fishplates causing derailments and tried to set fire to carriages forcing railway authorities to suspend the service of Demu trains. Several intercity trains got stranded at places for uprooting of tracks.
Pickets torched three carriages of Dhaka-bound ‘Sirajganj Express’ at Ishwardi railway station around 7:00am, halting train service on Dhaka-Khulna and Dhaka-Rajshahi routes. The Netrakona-bound Haor Express derailed at Shyamganj as fishplates were removed. Thirty people were injured as six carriages and the locomotive of Dhaka-bound Agnibina Express derailed at a place between Rajendrapur and Jaidebpur stations around 10:30pm as pickets removed fishplates.
Rail tracks were uprooted on Akhaura-Gangabari, Imambari-Gangabari and Imambari-Kasba routes snapping Dhaka-Chittagong train service. Five trains got stranded at Akhaura for uprooting of tracks.
Road links between Dhaka and outlying areas remained snapped as no buses operated on long routes and trucks carrying goods got stranded at places after opposition activists blocked stretches of major highways with logs.
A pedestrian Sakman Ali, 40, died from suffocation after inhaling tear gas used by the police during clashes with BNP-Jamaat supporters at Jagai’s Crossing in Sirajganj, Juba League leader Mahmudul Hasan Babul, 32, was lynched by Jamaat-Shibir men at Alaipur in Kalaroa in Satkhira, and rickshaw-puller Babul Miah, 45, was killed in police firing at Daulatganj Dighir Par in Laksam of Comilla, Juba Dal leader Yusuf Ali died allegedly in police firing at Banani of Shahjahanpur in Bogra, Border Guard Bangladesh soldier Ripon Hossain was shot dead by opposition activists in Comilla, Swechchhasebak League leader Rabiul Islam was hacked to death by Jamaat-Shibir men at Deara Bazar of Kalaroa and CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver Dulal Miah, 35, died after being struck by a stone
hurled at him by opposition activists in Feni town on the first day of the blockade.
Election offices also came under attack from opposition activists who set fire to election offices in Feni, Khulna and Bogra.
Border Guard Bangladesh soldier Ripon Hossain, 35, was killed and 10 others, including three policemen, were injured when villagers attacked a group of law enforcers in South Chartha-Taltoli Chowmohani area in Comilla around 4:30pm.
Ripon with bullet wounds was pronounced dead after being taken to Comilla Medical College Hospital. Two bullets pierced his head.
Additional police superintendent Ali Asraf Bhuyain said the villagers had attacked law enforcers when they went to South Chartha village around 4:30pm to hand over the body of Delawar Hossain, who died on Monday, to his family.
Delwar, a human hauler driver, died in hospital after being injured in clashes with police in Kandirpar area on Monday. Comilla unit Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal genaral sectetary Kawser Ahmed said that Delwar was an activist of the organisation.
In Sirajganj, Sakman Ali died in a clinic after falling sick inhaling tear gas during clashes between the police and blockade enforcers at Jagai’s crossing while passing by on bicycle.
Sirajganj additional superintendent of police Moktar Hossain confirmed the death. The opposition activists blocked the Jagai’s crossing in the town and fought pitched battles with the police exploding crude bombs. They also torched and damaged two trucks in Maalpara area.
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir lynched Juba League leader Mahmudul Hasan Babul when he came face to face with a violent procession of the Islamists at Alaipur in Kalaroa upazila around 11:00am.
Jamaat-Shibir men hacked Swechchhasebak League leader Rabiul Islam at Deara Bazar of Kalaroa when Awami League activists were damaging shops at the market in protest at Babul’s killing.
Satkhira witnessed a wave of violence as Jamaat-Shibir men fought running battles with police forcing the lawmen to fire more than 100 shots to disperse the protesters. At least 100 people were injured in the clashes.
Jaidev Chowdhury, additional police superintendent in Satkhira, said police had to fire 107 shots to control the situation. Reinforcements have been despatched to the troubled bordering area and eight Jamaat men have been arrested. 

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