Kerry slams attacks on civilians in Bangladesh

Dhaka, February 20: US Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the targeting of innocent civilians in the ongoing political violence in Bangladesh and called for an immediate end to such attacks. Kerry, following his meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali in Washington Thursday, stated that there could be “no tolerance” for tactics that target innocent citizens or “inhibit political expression” in a democratic Bangladesh, according to a report. The opposition Bangladesh tiolist Party (BNP) and its allies have enforced a non-stop tionwide blockade since Jan 6, demanding fresh parliamentary polls under a non-party caretaker government system, having boycotted the general elections held Jan 5 last year.

More than 100 people have been killed so far in the ensuing political violence, and most of them have been killed after firebomb attacks on public vehicles. Numerous strikes have crippled normal life in the country.

Kerry called for government action to end the political strife peacefully, and underscored the Bangladesh government’s role in ensuring peaceful political expression for all parties. He also emphasised the need for a free and fair media that plays a constructive role in ensuring human rights.

“He (Kerry) condemned the targeting of civilians by political parties and stressed the need for opposition parties to cease such attacks immediately,” according to a spokesperson for the US state department. The US secretary of state reiterated US support to help achieve a political solution that returns Bangladesh to its democratic foundations. He conveyed his “appreciation” for the close relationship that the US shared with Bangladesh. (ians)

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Sentinel Assam