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Bangladesh PM blames blast on foes

Bangladesh has a history of election violence, with death threats rife.
Bangladesh has a history of election violence, with death threats rife.  


DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Bangladesh police are holding three people in connection with a bombing they describe as the worst attack in the country's history.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has blamed the leader of the opposition party for the blast that killed 22 people, and accused opponents of trying to disrupt democracy in the run-up to an election campaign.

In the wake of Saturday's bombing on a ruling party office, sporadic riots have broken out for and against the government.

Rivalries between political parties in Bangladesh are intense and often erupt in street fights and bomb attacks during election season.

The next general elections are in October and Hasina will seek re-election after her five-year term ends on July 13.

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Parliament is considering a special security law to beef up protection for the prime minister amid threats against her life and claims the parties are using armed criminals to kill people and create anarchy in the run-up to the polls.

"They are engaged in politics of blood. They are threatening to stage a repeat of 1975," Hasina, who heads the Awami League, told parliament.

Her father, independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was killed in a 1975 coup with other family members.

Hasina's main challenger in the elections will be Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), a former prime minister.

Police said one of the arrested, Shamsul Alam Liton, was a newspaper reporter and allegedly an armed member of the small right-wing Freedom Party, a non-parliamentary party.

Police identified another of the arrested, Shah Alam, as a BNP activist.

The third was described as a female factory worker.

Protests

The blast, which exploded at a ruling party office killed 22 and injured scores of others.
The blast, which exploded at a ruling party office killed 22 and injured scores of others.  

In the wake of the bombing -- the latest in a series that have killed more than 80 people in two years -- Awami supporters demonstrated on the streets.

Shots were fired at the motorcade of Bangladesh's main opposition leader one day after the blast.

While opposition head Zia was unhurt after two bullets hit a van carrying security guards behind her vehicle, she accused the government of trying to kill her.

The BNP has called for a two-day general strike in protest from Tuesday, Reuters reported its secretary-general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan as saying.

He called for a "proper judicial inquiry" into the bombing.

No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday's bomb attack.

Police said Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman, who was holding a meeting of party workers and supporters at the time of the blast, was injured but recovering in hospital.

Bangladesh has been rocked by a string of recent bombing. Both parties say their rivals have heavily armed members ahead of October's polls.

Blasts

Two weeks ago a blast killed 10 people at a Roman Catholic church at Banaripara in Hasina's home district, Gopalganj.

Police say they have confirmed the involvement of Islamic militants in an April 14 bomb blast at a Bengali New Year concert in Dhaka that killed seven people and wounded many.

They also suspect Islamists in the Banaripara church explosion but have not yet completed their investigations.

The blood-letting that began after the 1975 military coup was followed by several mutinies, including one in 1981 that killed Khaleda's husband and former president Ziaur Rahman.





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