At least 5 people were killed and several injured as a moving train was set on fire at Gopibagh in Bangladesh capital Dhaka Friday evening.
Unidentified arsonists set fire to the Benapole Express train at about 9:00pm and four compartments of the train were burnt, said Fire Service media cell official Talha Bin Zasim.
The incident took place about nine hours before the beginning of a 48-hour countrywide general strike called by opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party protesting at January 7 ‘one-sided’ general election slated for Saturday morning.
Eight firefighting units rushed to the spot and doused the fire with over an hour of effort.
Rapid Action Battalion media wing director Khandaker Al-Moin said that 5 bodies were recovered from the train till submission of this report at 11:45pm.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Wari division deputy commissioner Iqbal Hossain said that one of the victims was a child.
He said that one of the victims was a man who went to rescue the trapped passengers inside the train and caught into the fire to die.
Iqbal said that the firefighters and police personnel continued searching the compartments to check if there were any more victims.
A youth was admitted to the Sheikh Hasina Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery with burn injuries he sustained in the incident.
Injured Amit Debnath, 27, an employee of a private company, who was admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Burn Unit said that he was from Faridpur and managed to come out of the train immediately after he noticed the fire.
‘I am suffering from breathing problems due to smoke in the train,’ said Amit.
The train was bound for Dhaka’s Kamalapur from Benapole of Jashore.
The police suspect the fire incident was an arson attack.
‘The attack might have been carried out by the people in guise of passengers,’ DMP additional commissioner for crime and operations Kh Mahid Uddin.
The Rapid Action Battalion media wing director Khandaker Al-Moin said that they had intelligence that sabotage attempts might be carried out ahead of the January 7 election.
Intelligence agencies are investigating the incident.
Bangladesh Railway east zone general manager Nazrul Islam told New Age at 11:30pm that a five-member committee was formed to investigate the incident and submit its report as soon as possible.
The opposition parties boycotted the elections and continued with their campaign asking people not to go to polling centres.
Earlier on December 19, four passengers, including a woman and her minor son, were killed when three compartments of a moving train were set on fire in Dhaka city.
Mohanganj Express, a Dhaka-bound train from Netrakona, near Tejgaon Railway Station, about an hour before opposition parties, including BNP, began enforcing a dawn-to-dusk strike demanding the cancellation of the upcoming general election and the resignation of the government.