DHAKA, Jan 19, 2015:
Bangladesh police on Monday removed stringent security stationed around opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s office in Dhaka, ending her forced confinement after 16 days, amid renewed deadly political unrest.
Authorities had ordered the former two-time premier confined to her office to prevent her spearheading anti-government protests as part of opposition efforts to force the downfall of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“We’ve withdrawn the additional security from her office after midnight,” local police chief Rafiqul Islam told AFP, adding that Zia was now free to leave.
Two police vans and a water cannon parked outside Zia’s office in Dhaka’s upmarket Gulshan district have also been removed, he said.
The siege at her office sparked a renewed upsurge in political unrest around the country that left 27 people dead.
Zia called a nationwide transport blockade during the siege, with opposition activists firebombing buses, cars and lorries and police retaliating by firing bullets and tear gas.
A spokesman for Zia’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) confirmed that police had withdrawn from her office overnight but vowed to continue the transport blockade.
“At the moment, there is no security outside her office,” Sayrul Kabir Khan said.
Zia wants Hasina to call fresh elections after last year’s controversial poll boycotted by opposition parties and marred by deadly violence.
The United States, Britain and the European Union have expressed concern over the latest unrest with the EU, the nation’s biggest export destination, urging Hasina’s government and the opposition to hold talks to resolve the crisis.