WORLD NEWS
08/05/2018 04:34 pm ET

Student Protests Surge In Bangladesh Capital Over Deadly Traffic Conditions

The thousands of young demonstrators faced tear gas and clubs while demanding safer streets in Dhaka.
Bangladeshi students are seen during clashes with the police amid a student protest in Dhaka on Sunday.
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Bangladeshi students are seen during clashes with the police amid a student protest in Dhaka on Sunday.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Thousands of angry young people took to the streets of Bangladesh’s capital again Sunday to demand safer streets, facing police firing tear gas and pro-government activists who attacked them with clubs.

Protests have flared repeatedly in Dhaka since two students were killed last week by speeding buses.

The pro-government activists, members of a political youth league, also attacked at least five journalists, including an Associated Press photographer who was briefly hospitalized with a head injury. Footage of the attack on social media showed him surrounded and beaten by nearly a dozen men in the city’s Dhanmondi neighborhood.

The protest is in the wake of two college students' deaths in a road accident. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged
NurPhoto via Getty Images
The protest is in the wake of two college students' deaths in a road accident. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged students on Sunday to go home.

The protests have become a serious embarrassment to the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ahead of a general election due in December. Her party is blaming the main opposition, led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, for using the student anger to create chaos for political gains. Political feuding between the two political leaders has dominated Bangladesh’s politics for more than a decade.

Zia’s party has formally extended its support to the protesters, but Hasina has also reached out to the demonstrators by pledging to improve road safety.

Police fired tear gas at the crowds during the eighth day of protests over road safety in Dhaka.
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Police fired tear gas at the crowds during the eighth day of protests over road safety in Dhaka.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, an official car carrying the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Bernicat, was attacked by a group of armed men, some riding motorcycles, as it drove through Dhaka, according to a Sunday statement from the embassy. No one was injured.

Badiul Alam Majumdar, a prominent local activist and government critic, said the attack happened as the ambassador left a dinner party at his home.

On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on its Facebook page that the protesters “have united and captured the imagination of the whole country,” noting that “nothing can justify the brutal attacks and violence over the weekend against the thousands of young people who have been peacefully exercising their democratic rights in supporting a safer Bangladesh.“

At least 12,000 people die each year in road accidents in Bangladesh. The student protests have snarled traffic throughout Dh
MUNIR UZ ZAMAN via Getty Images
At least 12,000 people die each year in road accidents in Bangladesh. The student protests have snarled traffic throughout Dhaka.

The roads of Dhaka are a web of gridlock and chaos. Unlicensed drivers, unregistered vehicles and speeding buses are commonplace, police corruption is rife and traffic enforcement often nonexistent. At least 12,000 people die each year in road accidents in Bangladesh.

The demonstrating students have stopped thousands of vehicles during the protests, including those of top officials, checking if the cars were registered and the drivers licensed.

Bangladeshi police clash with students in Dhaka on Sunday over the city's unsafe driving conditions. Unlicensed drivers, unre
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Bangladeshi police clash with students in Dhaka on Sunday over the city's unsafe driving conditions. Unlicensed drivers, unregistered vehicles and speeding buses are commonplace, police corruption is rife and traffic enforcement often nonexistent.

CONVERSATIONS