November 10, 2013 1:52:00 am
Five top BNP leaders were arrested overnight by Bangladeshi police ahead of a nationwide shutdown called by opposition parties to press their demand for a neutral caretaker set-up to oversee the general elections,sparking fresh tensions in the country.
Three members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Partys highest policymaking committee – Moudud Ahmed,M K Anwar and Rafiqul Islam Mia – were arrested by plain clothesmen here. They were taken into custody while returning home after the anniversary celebration of a newspaper.
Later,police detained BNP chief Khaleda Zias adviser,business tycoon Abdul Awal Mintu,and her special assistant Shimul Biswas.
Mintu and Biswas were whisked away from outside Zias residence around 1 am (local time),reports said.
Witnesses said police were deployed on the streets and around Zias office and residence. A police officer described the intensified vigilance as steps for her own security.
BNP alleged police carried out midnight raids at the homes of several influential party leaders who went underground to evade arrest.
To protest the arrest of the five leaders,the BNP extended the 72-hour shutdown beginning Sunday by 12 hours,saying the strike would continue until Wednesday evening.
Angry opposition activists took to the streets,setting several vehicles on fire and exploding crude bombs. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Police sought 20-day remand for the five BNP leaders,alleging they were involved in an attempt to kill policemen and create unrest in Dhaka. The five leaders were shown as being arrested in two separate cases. They were produced in court Saturday afternoon.
Information Minister Hassanul Haq Inu Friday night said the government was forced to arrest the BNP leaders in a extraordinary situation.
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