Bangladesh opposition supporters clash with police ahead of general election, set vehicles on fire; tear-gas fired

In Bangladesh on Saturday, police used tear gas against supporters of the Opposition party who engaged in violent acts, including attacks on security forces, pelting stones, vandalizing vehicles, and setting some on fire. They were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the transfer of power to a non-partisan caretaker government to oversee the upcoming general elections. Their primary demand was for a free and fair vote to be conducted under the supervision of a neutral government. Regrettably, these clashes led to at least two fatalities and numerous injuries as confrontations erupted between security forces and members of the Opposition in at least ten locations in Dhaka.


The violence began in Dhaka’s Kakrail area when activists from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, allegedly attacked a bus carrying members of the ruling Awami League, who were heading to a separate rally a few blocks away. Video footage showed thousands of individuals seeking refuge and safety as the sound of grenades and billowing black smoke filled the air.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Faruk Hossain has stated that the constable who tragically lost his life was reportedly attacked in the head by Opposition activists. Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition party, has claimed that one of its youth wing leaders, Shamim Molla, was fatally shot by the police. BNP spokesperson Sayrul Kabir Khan informed AFP, saying, “Shamim Molla, one of our youth wing leaders, was shot and has been taken to a hospital in Rajarbagh, located in central Dhaka.” According to police reports, up to 20 individuals were transported to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with injuries caused by rubber bullets.

The clashes between security forces and Opposition protesters began in front of Dhaka’s largest Catholic church, with BNP supporters being accused of setting a bus and a police post on fire. There were also reports of an alleged attack on a police hospital. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir emphasized that their rally against the Bangladeshi government had been peaceful. He accused the authorities of using excessive force to disrupt their gathering, stating, “Our rally was peaceful, and it is the authorities who used excessive force to disperse our supporters, subjecting our people to harsh attacks.”