At least seven people died and 16 others were injured in an arson attack Tuesday on a crowded bus in Bangladesh, which is facing spiraling unrest amid strikes called by opposition parties demanding fresh elections.
The predawn attacks targeted sleepy passengers returning to the capital Dhaka from the eastern city of Cox’s Bazar. Many of those hurt have been admitted to hospital burn units, according to the Associated Press.
Since Jan. 5, the one-year anniversary of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s re-election, 53 people have died from arson attacks during violent opposition strikes known as hartals. Instability and violence during hartals killed approximately 300 in 2013 in the lead-up to the last election.
The government blames the current wave of arson attacks on supporters of ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted the 2014 polls and is now calling for a citywide transport shutdown to compel Hasina’s resignation. However, Zia denies any role in instigating the violence.
A new election is scheduled for Bangladesh in 2019.