According to police and a doctor, a protest in rural Bangladesh over police enforcement of coronavirus restrictions turned violent when a group of protesters assaulted a police station, shooting at least three people.
The incident occurred late Monday in the central town of Saltha in the Faridpur district, where rumours had circulated about a man being injured in a police sweep of a market aimed at implementing health measures to prevent the spread of COVID, according to the police.
Thousands of villagers took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction. According to police, a group of them threw bricks at a police station and vandalized government offices in the area, torching an officer’s home and two government vehicles.
“Police fired in self-defence after they attacked the police station,” a police spokesman in Faridpur district told AFP news agency.
Inspector Nur-a-Alam Fakir, a second police officer, confirmed the incident.
While police did not provide any casualty figures, Abdul Matin, a doctor at the state-run Faridpur Medical College Hospital’s emergency ward, said three people were in critical condition after being shot.
“One of them was hit in his buttocks, another in his chest and the third person was shot in both legs,” he told AFP.
After coronavirus cases hit new highs and fatalities skyrocketed in recent weeks, Bangladesh imposed a seven-day nationwide lockdown on Monday.
At least 7,087 people tested positive for the virus on Sunday, the highest daily case total since the virus was first identified in March 2020 in the South Asian country.
All domestic transport services have been suspended, including buses, ferries, trains, and airlines, and shops and malls will be closed for a week. There is a curfew in place at night.
Hundreds of shopkeepers protested the lockdown in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, arguing that it would unfairly affect their businesses.
According to two policemen, members of the hardline faction Hefazat-e-Islam took part in the assault on the Saltha police station.
Thousands of supporters of Hefazat staged nationwide protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit late last month, which resulted in deadly clashes with police.
Hefazat has yet to respond to police reports that they were involved in the incident in Saltha.