BNC Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia was locked in her own office.Reuters

Death toll in the ongoing political unrest in Bangladesh climbed to 34 on Saturday amid reports of fresh violence where anti-government protesters targeted several vehicles with petrol bombs.

Saturday's violence was one of the worst attacks since the unrest began earlier this month.

Over 40 people were reported injured in what has been referred to as the worst arson attacks since the political instability and the ensuing unrest began earlier in January. According to doctors, some of the injured are critical.

Police said huge mobs of protesters threw petrol bombs on vehicles last night in Dhaka and surrounding districts.

Witnesses were earlier cited by news reports as saying that two youths simultaneously hurled two petrol bombs on a bus at Dhaka's Jatrabari area when the vehicle was in its way to suburban Narayanganj. The suspects quickly fled after the attacks.

The fire emanating from the petrol bombs spread immediately even as everyone inside struggled to escape from the bus. Many passengers, unable to make their way out of the fire-engulfed vehicle, sustained major burns. All hell broke loose and panic and confusion reigned supreme, witnesses were further cited as saying.

"The respiratory system of nine of the bus passengers were badly damaged in the arson attack. Their condition is more critical than the others," a doctor from the burn unit in Dhaka Medical college Hospital told local TV channels, as noted by India's Zee News.

Almost half of the 34 killed so far were targeted in arson attacks on buses and trucks in assaults since 6 January. A child and truck driver succumbed to their burn wounds on Friday –the latest two victims of the growing unrest.

It all started in early January when Bangladesh National Party (BNP) called for a non-stop blockage in the whole of the country after its chief and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was barred by authorities to join a protest marking the first anniversary of last year's elections, which were considered to be divisive by people.

Zia was confined to her house while police also guarded her office. However, even after police withdrew from the situation, the political party continued with their blockade and demanded immediate dialogue with the government for an inclusive midterm polls.