One Killed in Bangladesh Opposition Strike Violence
At least one person was killed and more than 50 others injured Sunday in sporadic violence on the first day of a three-day opposition-called general strike in Bangladesh, police and reports said.
In southeastern Feni town, a driver was killed when a crude bomb was hurled on to his truck during the strike, the private Ekushey Television (ETV) reported.
The capital Dhaka was also rocked by a number of crude bomb blasts while at least six people were injured in strike-related violence, the official BSS news agency reported. One of them, a driver, was rushed to hospital in critical condition after his three-wheeler was hit by a petrol bomb in the upmarket Baridhara district, the agency added.
In the southeastern port city of Chittagong, police used batons against stone-throwing strikers in several areas. Some 50 people sustained minor injuries and 34 others were arrested, police said.
Local opposition leader and former mayor Mir Nasiruddin claimed that police action had left 100 people injured while 200 were in detention.
Earlier nearly 200 people were injured and some 50 others arrested in pre-strike violence Saturday nationwide.
The authorities drafted in 5,000 police and paramilitary troops to tighten security in Dhaka where vehicles stayed off the streets and schools, shopping centers and markets remained shut, witnesses and police said.
Sunday is normally a working day in Muslim Bangladesh.
A spate of strike-related violence in Dhaka Saturday left some 40 people injured and up to 50 buses and vehicles damaged, Bangladeshi media reported, adding that police broke up clashes between opposition and government supporters in some districts.
The strike was called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance demanding the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed and her entire Awami League government as well as early polls.
The strike, which is due to end Tuesday evening, also paralyzed Chittagong where the previous day's violence left 10 people injured and 24 others detained, police said.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia, who heads a four-party opposition alliance, last month gave the government a March 30 ultimatum to step down or face the two-day nationwide shutdown. An opposition-backed student group extended the strike until April 3.
Sheikh Hasina, who earlier said she would step down after April 17 and seek re-elections before June 12, later withdrew her offer. On Friday she blasted Zia again for her alleged intransigence and ruled out the prospect of polls before mid-July when the government's five-year term ends.
According to Bangladesh's constitution, polls for 300 parliamentary seats have to be staged by a caretaker government within three months of the dissolution of parliament.
The recent standoff between the opposition and the government has added to uncertainties about the elections, raising fears of more violence and confrontation, analysts have said.
The country's business community has expressed its disquiet over the standoff and the strikes which they say are hitting the public hard and crippling nation's fragile economy -- DHAKA (AFP)
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