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Bangladesh violence spreads after India premier's visit

WORLD
By Reuters | March 29th 2021
The national flag of Bangladesh.

Hundreds of members of a hardline Islamist group attacked Hindu temples and a train in eastern Bangladesh yesterday, police and a local journalist said, as violence spread across the country in the wake of a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Local police and doctors have said at least 11 protesters have been killed since Friday in clashes with police during demonstrations organised by Islamist groups against the Indian leader's visit. Violence has raged on since Modi's departure as anger has swelled over the deaths.

Modi arrived in Dhaka on Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's nationhood, and he left on Saturday after gifting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina some 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccine shots.

Islamist groups accuse Modi of discriminating against minority Muslims in Hindu-majority India.

On Friday, dozens of people were injured in the densely-populated capital Dhaka as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

Thousands of Islamist activists marched down streets across Bangladesh on Sunday.

Activists with the Hefazat-e-Islam group attacked a train in the eastern district of Brahmanbaria, resulting in ten people being injured, a police official said.

"They attacked the train and damaged its engine room and almost all the coaches," the official told Reuters, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

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Several government offices, including the land office and a government-sponsored music academy, were set on fire and several Hindu temples were also attacked, said Javed Rahim, a journalist in Brahmanbaria town. "We are in extreme fear and feeling really helpless,” Rahim told Reuters by telephone. 

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