Bangladesh clashes continue


Police fired tear gas in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka today as political violence that broke out yesterday continued during a day-long general strike, officers and witnesses said.

Thousands of protesters marched on the streets of Dhaka and other cities, clashing with police in ongoing fallout from the government's eviction of the main opposition party leader.

"At several places in the capital, police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse brick-throwing and stick-wielding protesters. Some have been injured or detained," said one witness. Other witnesses said protesters vandalised several buses and cars in the city.

Local television and radio channels reported sporadic violence in outlying districts including Noakhali, Rajshahi, Barisal, Sirajganj and Narsingdi, where police said about a dozen people were injured and at least 20 detained.

Many workers observed a national day-long strike called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), severely disrupting transport in the capital city of 12 million. Several thousand people hoping to travel to villages for Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim religious festival, were unable to leave Dhaka.

The stoppage was called by the BNP in protest against the eviction of BNP leader and former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia from her home at the Dhaka military barracks.

Sunday is a working day in Bangladesh. Many offices and banks opened with only a handful of employees to beat the strike, and the Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges were open for trade, officials and brokers said. Work at the country's main port of Chittagong was partially disrupted.

"The political lull has ended and we are back in the days of violence and disruption," said Abdul Wahab, a businessman.

Fighting started yesterday after BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia was ordered by a court to leave the house she had occupied since her husband, former army chief and president Ziaur Rahman, was killed in an abortive coup in 1981.

At least three people were killed in an overnight suicide bomb attack west of the capital at the home of a lawmaker from the ruling Awami League. It was unclear whether that incident was directly related to Ms Khaleda's eviction.