Skip to main content

10 killed in Bangladesh arson attack

By Farid Ahmed, CNN
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
Clashes at a refugee camp left 10 people dead in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 14, authorities say.
Clashes at a refugee camp left 10 people dead in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 14, authorities say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arson attack, riots leave 10 people living Dhaka refugee camp dead
  • Most victims are women and children, says relief officer
  • Security forces disperse angry crowds with tear gas

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- At least 10 people living in a squalid refugee camp in the capital of Bangladesh died in a riot and arson attack Saturday, police and other government officials said.

"Most of the victims are women and children and the government has already ordered an investigation," district relief and rehabilitation officer Ekramul Haque told CNN.

Police and witnesses said violent clashes erupted between locals and people living in the camp, who are widely known as "stranded Pakistanis," in the Mirpur district of Dhaka.

The incident followed an altercation when a group of children set off firecrackers during a religious event earlier on Saturday.

Police said nine people were burned to death while the other was shot dead during the clashes.

Urdu-speaking camp residents allege that several hundred Bengalis carrying machetes and logs attacked the shanty town and set fire to their houses; firefighters later extinguished the flames.

Police told CNN they opened fire and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the angry mob; they said they detained more than 50 people at the scene.

A leader of the refugees, Abdul Jabbar Khan, claimed the attack was a part of a move by local influential politicians who wanted to evict the refugees from the camps.

But Elias Mollah, a member of parliament from Mirpur, who belongs to the ruling Awami League party, denied the allegations.

Khan who heads the Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee (SPGRC) told CNN about 2,000 people were living in the camp when it came under attack on Saturday.

He said about 300,000 Urdu-speaking people live on government land in around 70 shanty towns, known as "Bihari camps."

During the partition of India in 1947, several hundred thousand Muslims, mostly from the Indian state of Bihar, came to Dhaka and other cities in what is now Bangladesh.

After Bangladesh gained independence, Pakistan refused to repatriate most of the Urdu-speaking people and they remained stranded in refugee camps.

In 2008, Bangladesh's Supreme Court ruled that those who were born after independence had the right to Bangladeshi citizenship.

12 dead, dozens missing after Bangladesh ferry capsizes

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:35 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
ISIS has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Hundreds of jihadis in Syria are from abroad -- which countries have the biggest problem?
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
CNN attends a funeral where mourners keep their distance.
updated 5:13 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:25 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In a major breach of privacy, a hacker leaked a series of pictures allegedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities in the nude.
Instead of weaving garments sold in the West, children should be in school
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers around the world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT