A transport worker was killed in Bangladesh when protesters set a bus on fire Thursday, police said, as political unrest continued over disputed parliamentary elections last year.

wpid-protesters.jpgThe transport worker was burnt alive after the parked bus he was sleeping in was torched in Gazipur district, 40 kilometres north of capital Dhaka, police officer Rafiqul Islam said.

Violence erupted in different parts of the country after former prime minister Khaleda Zia called a non-stop transport blockade across Bangladesh on January 5, the first anniversary of a controversial election that her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and allies boycotted.

The official death toll in the political violence rose to 17 as activists attacked more than 300 vehicles either with firebombs or stones during the blockade.

Five passengers of a bus, including a child, were killed in an arson attack in northern Rangpur district Wednesday.

“We will not be sitting idle if anyone tries to use firebombs. We will definitely use weapons to save life and property,” Major General Aziz Ahmed, the chief of a paramilitary force, told reporters in Dhaka.

Most schools and business remained close while police in riot gear were seen guarding the deserted streets in Dhaka.

Zia has been asking the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to announce a fresh election under a non-party caretaker administration.

The government has turned down the demand.

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