DHAKA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Nearly a dozen senior leaders of ex- Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were detained in Bangladesh post-polls crackdown on opposition in capital Dhaka on Tuesday.
"The Detective Branch of Bangladesh Police picked up seven BNP leaders but later on four of them were released," said a BNP spokesman who preferred to be unnamed.
He said fearing arrest and police raids, many senior BNP leaders including Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir have gone into hiding, with many of them also switching off their mobile phones.
Satyaki Kaviraj, a senior Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) police official, told Xinhua that "Khandker Mahbub Hossain, BNP chairperson's adviser, Nazimuddin Alam, BNP lawmaker, and Fazlul Haque Milon, BNP's organizing secretary, are now in detectives' custody."
He could not tell the reasons for detention which came a day after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered law enforcement agencies, army and administration to take stern action against trouble makers to maintain order after Sunday's parliament elections, marred by opposition boycott and widespread violence.
Mired in controversy, Bangladesh's 10th parliamentary election was held in just 147 out of 300 seats in 59 out of 64 districts of the country on Sunday, as 153 candidates have been elected uncontested amid boycott by Khaleda Zia's BNP and its 17 allies.
According to results from the Election Commission, AL won 232 seats -- 127 uncontested and 105 on Sunday -- securing absolute majority in the election. Some 21 parties including BNP boycotted Sunday's election and tried to prevent it by resorting to intense violence in which at least 23 people were reportedly killed.
Hasina Monday said that a new election might be arranged if the Awami League and the BNP reached an agreement.
Hasina said people turned up to polling centers defying all hurdles set up by opposition to cast their votes in favor of the AL for lasting peace and progress.
But BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who virtually remained confined to her house since Dec. 28 , in a statement Monday said the government had lost moral and constitutional grounds to remain in power as people rejected the "one-sided and stage-managed election".
She said the shameless government is still claiming that the people cast their votes spontaneously and it has received mandated to run the country.
Khaleda's 18-party alliance Tuesday evening extended its ongoing 48-hour nationwide strike to Wednesday 6:00 p.m.
Less than an hour after the parliament elections concluded amid wide spread violence, the opposition alliance called the nationwide 48-hour strike form Monday morning demanding cancellation of Sunday's general polls, which also disappointed the international community.
International community, including the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Commonwealth, have already termed the election "disappointing".
"With more than half of the seats uncontested and most of the remainder offering only token opposition, the results of the just- concluded elections do not appear to credibly express the will of the Bangladeshi people," said the U.S. state department in a statement received here Tuesday.
It said, "To that end, we encourage the Government of Bangladesh and opposition parties to engage in immediate dialogue to find a way to hold as soon as possible elections that are free, fair, peaceful, and credible, reflecting the will of the Bangladeshi people."
Bangladesh's next-door neighbor India, among others, is the first country that came up with an official reaction.
New Delhi said, "Elections in Bangladesh on 5th January were a constitutional requirement. They are a part of the internal and constitutional process of Bangladesh."
"It is for the people of Bangladesh to decide their own future and choose their representatives in a manner that responds to their aspirations...The democratic processes must be allowed to take their own course in Bangladesh," the spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on its website.
Tensions are running high as already panic-stricken people from the ongoing indefinite blockades alongside countrywide strike fear violence may scale up further since the opposition alliance called to continue movement to put pressure on Hasina government to cancel the elections.
The opposition alliance had earlier enforced blockade for a total of 22 days since Nov. 26 last year after the Election Commission announced schedule for the 10th parliamentary polls. Scores of people, including a covered van driver, on early Tuesday were killed in violence since the announcement of schedule for the polls.
Hundreds of educational institutions uses as polling centers in Bangladesh capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country have been torched despite beefed-up security measures with deployment of around 400,000 law enforcers and over 50,000 Army troops.
Bangladeshi Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid Tuesday said a total of 531 educational institutions were damaged in polls violence across the country on Jan. 5.