A motorcade carrying the US ambassador to Bangladesh came under attack in the capital, Dhaka, the US Embassy said. The incident comes amid massive protests over road safety.
An official US Embassy vehicle, which was transporting US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat, was attacked in the Mohammadpur district of Dhaka late Saturday “by a group of armed adult men, some on motorcycles,” the embassy said in a statement on Sunday. The ambassador, as well as her security team and drivers, did not sustain any injuries in the attack, the statement added, saying that everyone “departed the area unharmed.”
However, two security vehicles were damaged in the incident. The attack came after the US ambassador left the residence of Badiul Alam Majumder, a secretary of a local civil society advocacy group known as Shujan, around 11:00pm (local time) on Saturday.
As Bernicat was leaving, a group of men attempted to chase the ambassador’s car while hurling bricks at it, Majumder told local media, adding that the attackers then threw bricks at his house as well. Local police confirmed the incident; however, no information has been revealed about the identity of the attackers.
The incident comes amid ongoing mass protests staged by students who demand more safety on the roads after two students were killed in traffic incidents. The demonstrations paralyzed the capital as the protesters blocked roads and disrupted traffic on numerous occasions. Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan warned on Sunday that actions would be taken against the demonstrators if the protests become too disruptive.
On Saturday, police already used tear gas and batons to disperse crowds of protesters in Dhaka. The clashes left dozens of demonstrators injured, according to media reports. On several occasions, protesters and journalists covering the demonstrations were also attacked by unidentified men carrying sticks and metal rods, other media reported.
Earlier, the US Embassy expressed its support to the protesters by saying that “nothing can justify the brutal attacks and violence over the weekend against the thousands of young people, who have been peacefully exercising their democratic rights in supporting a safer Bangladesh.” At the same time, it also said that it does not “condone the actions of a few who have engaged in senseless property destruction, including of buses and other vehicles.”
The embassy itself also issued a “demonstration alert” earlier this week, in which it said that “some public transport and privately owned vehicles have been vandalized during these demonstrations,” citing local news sources. “Previous protests in Bangladesh have turned violent, resulting in traffic disruptions, injuries, and deaths. Participants are known to throw rocks and debris,” the embassy’s statement added at that time.