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Deadly unrest in Bangladesh; ex-foreign minister attacked

The attack on opposition party adviser and former Foreign Secretary Riaz Rahman, which some believe was an attempt by the government to intimidate the opposition, marks the latest incident of political violence in the South Asian nation.

By
JC Finley
Riaz Rahman, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, was attacked in central Dhaka (pictured in 2007) on Jan. 13, 2015. Flickr/ Akhlaque Haque
Riaz Rahman, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, was attacked in central Dhaka (pictured in 2007) on Jan. 13, 2015. Flickr/ Akhlaque Haque

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Riaz Rahman, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, was injured Tuesday night after anti-government protesters set his car on fire in central Dhaka.

The attack on Rahman, which some believe was an attempt by the government to intimidate the opposition, marks the latest incident of political violence in the South Asian nation.

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"There is no justification for such outrageous and cowardly acts in a democratic Bangladesh," the U.S. Department of State said in response to the attack. "We condemn the use of violence for political objectives.

The government, opposition elements and police have clashed since the anniversary of last year's disputed election on Jan. 5, leading to at least 10 deaths and dozens of injuries.

In January 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League dominated parliamentary elections during an opposition boycott. The prime minister has since labeled the opposition "militants and terrorists," fomenting political tension.

Opposition-led protests and transportation shutdowns have been launched in response to accusations that the government is attempting to implement a one-party state. The unrest has also negatively impacted the country's export revenue.

Fresh protests were called Thursday after a senior adviser to opposition leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, was shot outside her office.

"We urge all sides to refrain from acts of violence," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday. "We call on all parties to exercise restraint and eschew violence and intimidation, and we urge the government to ensure people can freely exercise their right to peaceful political expression."

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