Dhaka launches inquiry into police shootings

Published on Jan 25, 2006 04:14 PM IST

The government has announced an inquiry into the killing of eight people after police opened fire on 10,000 rioting farmers.

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None | ByAgence France-Presse, Dhaka

The Bangladesh government on Wednesday announced an inquiry into the killing of eight people after police opened fire on 10,000 rioting farmers.

The probe, led by a senior official, would "identify the persons responsible... and find out the causes and nature of the incident that has led to killing and injuries of people due to police firing," a statement said.

Senior police said officers fired in self-defence after the crowd besieged a rural electricity board office and torched police vehicles on Monday in the northwestern district of Chapai Nawabganj.

Two of 14 people who were seriously injured were still in critical condition in hospital Wednesday with bullet wounds to the head.

Opposition parties called a district-wide general strike Wednesday in protest at the shootings, which they described as "unprovoked and unprecedented". Chapai Nawabganj is home to more than a million people.

Cars and buses were off the roads and shops and schools closed as activists of a 14-party alliance led by the main opposition Awami League party staged protest marches across the district, police said.

"We have deployed over 400 officers throughout the district to prevent any violence," additional superintendent of police Shamsul Alam Khan told the agency.

The shootings at Shibganj, 250 kilometres (150 miles) from Dhaka, follow a similar incident outside the same office on January 4 when two people were killed.

The farmers are demanding more and cheaper electricity to run irrigation pumps. They blame an erratic power supply due to growing national demand for poor crop yields.

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