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Dhaka court orders ex-PM Khaleda Zia's arrest

A court in Bangladesh has ordered the arrest of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. Zia has been charged with involvement in firebomb attacks on a passenger bus that killed one and injured more than 30 people last year.

District Metropolitan Sessions Judge Kamrul Hossain Mollah issued the arrest warrant against Zia and 27 other activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Wednesday. Zia was charged with instigating violence when she asked her supporters to enforce a transport blockade in 2014 to remove Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government.

At least 130 people were killed in the violence, which included throwing petrol bombs at vehicles. In one incident, a petrol bomb was thrown at a passenger bus, killing one person and injuring more than 30 travelers.

Activists from Zia's party led a procession on Wednesday to protest the arrest warrant and said it was an attempt to humiliate their leader. Her lawyers said the former prime minister was not involved in any violence during the

anti-government protests that began in January last year

and lasted nearly three months.

Zia is also

accused of sedition

and corruption, with several cases pending in court, but the party leader may apply for interim bail, which would likely delay her arrest.

Bangladesh's politics are sharply divided between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Both leaders have alternatively ruled the country since 1990, when military dictator Hossain Muhammad Ershad was ousted from office in a mass uprising.

mg/rc (dpa, AP)

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