Bangladesh: Student road safety protests engulf capital

Bangladesh: Student road safety protests engulf capital

Bangladesh: Student road safety protests engulf capital

More than 100 people have been injured in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka as police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators protesting the transport sector, widely seen as corrupt and risky.

At least 50 protesters have also been injured in street attacks.

Nihad El Aabedy and Raheela Mahomed report.

A vehicle carrying the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat was the subject of a late-night attack in the capital Dhaka, on Saturday as she was leaving a farewell dinner for the chief of a nongovernmental organization.

Though the authorities have pleaded with students to call off the protests that have paralysed Dhaka and spread beyond the capital, with vehicles vandalised and clashes with police in some parts, yet the demonstrators defied the orders and took to streets that brought the traffic to a standstill.

Armed men attacked a convoy of cars carrying the USA envoy to Bangladesh in the capital Dhaka on Saturday night, U.S. officials said.

"We want justice", the students chanted as they gathered in some of Dhaka's main public squares.

Horrific scenes from Bangladesh show security forces clashing with unarmed student protesters, in yet another case of the state exercising its might against its own people. We wanted a peaceful protest.

Authorities have pleaded with students to call off the protests that have almost paralyzed Dhaka and spread beyond the capital.

"It would be shameful if the Sheikh Hasina government is deploying party hoodlums to target students for demanding safe roads", said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Police used tear gas to disperse crowds on Sunday.

"It's not true. Nothing happened at Jigatola", Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The protests spreading across Bangladesh have highlighted traffic risks in the densely populated country, where more than 4,000 people die in road accidents each year, one of the world's highest rates, the World Bank says. "We want safe roads and safe drivers", said protester Al Miran. Thousands of students from various schools and colleges came out on the streets, stopping vehicles to check for licenses and other permits, with the protest entering its eighth consecutive day on Sunday.

A number of journalists were also beaten and had their cameras taken away, reportedly by ruling Awami League party members. They're calling for improvements to road safety in Bangladesh, where around 12,000 people are killed in road accidents each year, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier the embassy had criticised the police crackdown on the protesters, whom it described as having "united and captured the imagination of the whole country".

It is common in Bangladesh for people to drive vehicles without a valid licence.

Dhaka-Mawa Bus Owners' Welfare Association president Ali Akbar said they were afraid to run their buses for possible vandalism.

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