World

Nationwide student protests enter fifth day in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi students shout slogans as they block a road during a protest in the capital of Dhaka, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/A. M. Ahad)

DHAKA: Bangladesh shut down high schools across the country Thursday as tens of thousands of students protested for a fifth straight day after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus.

Authorities had pleaded with students to call off the protests that have nearly paralyzed Dhaka and beyond and prompted foreign embassies to issue travel alerts.

But thousands blocked major intersections in Dhaka as police armed with shields and batons pushed back students in parts of the capital, with some reports of vehicles being vandalized.

The demonstrators, mostly students in their mid-teens, brought traffic to a standstill as they marched through the streets, chanting "We want justice."

Anger has not subdued since a bus racing for passengers killed a boy and girl on the roadside Sunday, igniting the protests.

Bangladesh's transport sector is widely seen as corrupt, unregulated and dangerous, and as news of the teenagers' deaths spread rapidly on social media, they became a catalyst for an outpouring of anger.

An insensitive comment by Shajahan Khan, a government minister with ties to powerful transport unions, also triggered fresh outrage.

Khan questioned why there was such an uproar over the two Dhaka children but there had been no reaction when 33 people had been killed in an Indian bus crash the day before.

There have been widespread social media demands for his resignation, even though the minister later apologized.

The Education Einistry shut down high schools Thursday in an effort to quell unrest, promising students their demands for reforms to road safety would be considered.

"They should have taken our demands seriously, but they didn't," Imran Ahmed, a protesting student, said.

 

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