Opposition members in Bangladesh have gone into hiding as police carry out sweeping raids after the country’s violent national election, a news report and a rights group said Thursday. The ruling party easily won Sunday’s election, which was marred by street fighting, low turnout and an opposition boycott, with at least 18 people dying in election-related violence. The vote only exacerbated tensions in this South Asian nation, which has a grim history of political unrest. Political violence has convulsed Bangladesh in recent months as opposition activists staged attacks, strikes and transportation blockades to protest Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Nearly 300 people have been killed in the violence since last February. After her party swept the largely uncontested elections, Hasina said Monday that her first priority was to contain the violence with an “iron hand.”
On Tuesday, detectives arrested four opposition leaders, including an adviser to opposition chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia. All four are still in jail.
Many other senior opposition leaders, including a former law minister, have been arrested in recent months on charges of fuelling violence and also remain jailed. Police say they are investigating the charges, which the opposition says are politically motivated.