DHAKA - Bangladesh on Thursday banned motorcyclists from carrying extra passengers in a bid to halt a spate of drive-by firebombing attacks by anti-government protesters, officials said. The impoverished South Asian nation has been hit by weeks of violent protests after the opposition leader called a nationwide transport blockade to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government. At least 30 people have been killed in the violence to date, more than a dozen of whom burnt to death after buses and cars were firebombed. The government said many of those attacks were carried out by pillion-riding motorcyclists, making it difficult to arrest them despite deploying thousands of police and paramilitaries across the country.

"It's been noticed that assailants are using motorcycles to carry out massive violence and subversive acts including bomb attacks on vehicles on the street," the Roads and Highways Department said in a statement.

"To ensure public safety pillion riding on motorbikes has been banned across the country until further notice."

Motorcycle is the main mode of transport in many remote parts of the country.