A policeman was killed overnight in Bangladesh after suspected activists of main opposition BNP and its radical ally Jamaat hurled a bomb at a police van, intensifying tensions ahead of a planned march to Dhaka.

The Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka said constable Siddhartha Chandra Sarkar, 23, died hours after he was flown to the facility by a private helicopter ambulance from northwestern Rajshahi with fatal injuries.

Eight other policemen were also injured and they are being treated at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) after the activists set ablaze the police patrol van using a crude bomb.

Doctors said the blast had ripped open Sarkar’s lungs while the others received serious splinter injuries.

Sarkar is the second policemen to have died two days after unidentified miscreants set ablaze a police bus carrying traffic constables using petrol and firebombs, killing a policeman instantly.

Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandker said members of the main law enforcement agency were being targeted through planned attacks to cripple the state machinery during the violent political protests.

The Rajshahi police said the activists carried out the attack apparently to avenge the detention of 20 others earlier yesterday following information of possible subversive activities to destabilise the government ahead of their December 29 “March for Democracy“.

But BNP leader and mayor of Rajshahi Mizanur Rahman Minu denied the allegation saying, “We don’t know who carried out the attack on police but it could be an act of government supporters to blame the opposition.”