BNC Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Begum Khaleda ZiaReuters

Bangladesh Opposition leader Khaleda Zia was unexpectedly released from a 17-day lock-up in her own office on Monday.

Zia, who has served as Bangladesh's President for two terms in the past, was confined to her office in Dhaka's upmarket Gulshan district since 3 January. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief was arrested to thwart the Opposition's plans to hold protests marking "Democracy Killing Day" on 5 January.

BNP, alleging that the Bangladesh elections held on 5 January 2014 were rigged, had refused to cast votes, leading her arch-rival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to win.

The ruling Awami League had banned all protests on the said date and had even tried to ensure it by holding the virtual house arrest. However, renewed violence over last year's disputed polls has been reported by DNA.

In fact, her siege is deemed to have sparked a new set of riots and renewed upsurge in political unrest around the country, leading to the death of 27 people and injury of hundreds.

Around 2:30am (IST) on 19 January, which also marks the 79th birth anniversary of Zia's husband and BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, additional police and barricade around Zia's office was recalled.

"They (police) first removed their vans at 2am and afterwards they left the scene along with water cannons," a BNP official said, adding that few policemen were left behind for routine duty.