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Turmoil cost Bangladesh nearly $15.5 bn: Sheikh Hasina
Wednesday February 25, 2015 9:32 PM, IANS

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Wednesday that the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance's agitation and blockade since January has resulted in a loss of over taka 1.2 trillion (nearly $15.5 billion).

Hasina told the parliament Wednesday that 101 people had died in the country, mostly succumbing to burns sustained because of firebombing of public transport, including on ferries, over the past 52 days, reported.

"The worst way to kill people is to burn them alive. A party's aim cannot be to come into power using that method," she said.

Hasina added that 1,173 vehicles and six ferries were set alight and there were 25 incidents of sabotage in the railways.

"The current elected government has a tenure of five years. So why this anarchy?" she asked.

Bangladesh has been gripped by political violence since January this year and the opposition BNP and its allies -- who boycotted the general elections held Jan 5 last year -- have enforced a non-stop nationwide blockade since Jan 5 this year, demanding fresh parliamentary polls under a non-party caretaker government system.

The prime minister said the protest movement by the opposition was, in fact, being waged for the BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia's personal gains.

"They are causing the anarchy to save their existence using some people of BNP, Jamaat-Shibir and terrorists," the prime minister said.

"If this does not stop, the government will take action against those involved as per law," she warned.

Hasina had Sunday called for "speedy" and "exemplary" punishment for arsonists and their backers in the strife-torn country.

Bangladesh's opposition alliance Tuesday extended its ongoing 72-hour nationwide strike till Friday morning in protest against what it said were the killings of opposition activists.

A court in Bangladesh Wednesday issued arrest warrants against ex-prime minister and BNP chief Khaleda Zia and two others in two cases filed by the country's anti-graft body.

Earlier this month, Zia was charged with instigating bomb attacks on a procession led by Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan in Dhaka, in which at least 11 people were injured.

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