30 dead as Bangladesh political violence escalates

On Saturday, the Islamist protesters set a ferry on fire. Source.

Many of the casualties have been caused by arson attacks on buses, and more than 7,000 people have been detained

Police in Bangladesh are braced for more violence this weekend after arson attacks, protests, strikes and blockades in recent days left 30 people dead and hundreds more injured.

More than 7,000 people have been detained in the country’s worst bout of political violence since national elections a year ago in which the ruling Awami League was re-elected after a boycott by the opposition.

The latest protests have been called by Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), who wants Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, to resign and call fresh elections. Hasina has said her government will remain in office until her term ends in 2019.

After a year of relative calm, there are fears that the violence may intensify as it did in 2013, when clashes between the parties’ supporters left nearly 300 people dead…

Khaleda Zia is associated with the Islamists, with Jamaat-e-Islami being the largest group.  It is essentially an argument over Islam, with the opposing party trending secular.  Sound familiar?

In the violence in 2013, all forms of transport were fair game: buses, cars, rickshaws, boats and trains. Trains were also derailed.