Zia could be tried for killings during unrest: Hasina

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Dhaka, Jan 22: Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia could be tried for the killings of about 30 people during the recent anti-government protests, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said.

"It will be logical to bring her (Zia) under the purview of law...for giving order of the killings," Hasina told parliament last night.

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"Law-enforcing agencies are examining the possibility of putting her (Zia) on trial...law will take its own course and it is up to agencies enforcing the law to check this out and take necessary action. I will leave it at that."

The violence sparked by the non-stop nationwide blockade enforced by 69-year-old Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) since January 6 has claimed at least 30 lives so far.

The premier's comments came as law enforcement agencies detained 2,500 suspected arsonists in the last 16 days and announced Tk 100,000 (USD 1,286) bounty on each person involved in the latest clash between Bangladesh's two main, long-feuding political factions.

"Attackers are killing people in the name of political programmes...the government has decided to stop it at any cost," said Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu.

The violence prompted government to indefinitely ban pillion riding today. In the latest incident of violence, an alleged BNP activist died in an accidental blast while manufacturing bombs at his downtown residence in Lalbagh area of Dhaka.

The blast late yesterday also seriously injured a minor girl and a woman. The two were being treated at the state-run Dhaka Medical College's burn unit.

"We have treated 40 patients who were brought here with wounds of arson attacks in the past two weeks," a doctor at the hospital told PTI.

Officials said over 7,000 activists of the BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami have been arrested since the unrest began on January 5, marking the first anniversary of the controversial polls won by Hasina, Zia's arch-rival.

The unrest began after police confined Zia, a two-time premier, to her office in Dhaka ahead of the anniversary. The 17-day house arrest of Zia was lifted on January 19, but the defiant ex-premier vowed to continue the nationwide blockade and preferred to stay put at her office.

PTI

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