DHAKA – Bangladesh police fired teargas and used batons in sporadic battles with stone-throwing activists in the capital on Thursday as the latest in a series of opposition-led strikes gripped the country.
Witnesses said clashes erupted in several areas of Dhaka, includi
ng Bangabandhu Avenue, where the central office of the main opposition party Awami League is located.
About 70 activists including women were injured, the witnesses said. Police detained dozens of protesters.
“The autocratic government has turned all of Bangladesh into a prison,” Tofayel Ahmed, a senior Awami League leader, said as police dragged protesters towards prison vans.
The opposition has tried for years to shake the stability of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s government through a series of strikes and other protests, but with no success.
Business leaders say each day of strike costs the country more than $60 million in lost production and exports.
Police turned on media photographers taking pictures of their actions and broke cameras, witnesses said. One reporter was injured, they said.
Most Dhaka streets were largely empty of vehicles, while schools and many offices were closed. Highway transport was not operating but trains and ferries were.
Residents in the city of 10 million people feared more violence after at least 100 people were injured in clashes with police on Wednesday during an opposition bid to lay siege to Khaleda’s office.
Police on Wednesday detained nearly 70 activists, leaders of a 14-party opposition alliance headed by Khaleda’s arch rival, Sheikh Hasina.
“The government let loose its pet police forces and hired goons to take us on,” said Abdur Razzak, a senior leader of the Awami League.
“In protest, we have called for another countrywide strike on Sunday,” Razzak said. — Reuter