Thursday, February 03, 2005



01. Fifteen hurt as Bangladesh hit by another nationwide strike
02. Protests broken up in Bangladesh


01. Fifteen hurt as Bangladesh hit by another nationwide strike

DHAKA (AFP) - At least 15 people were injured, one seriously, when petrol bombs were thrown at two buses on the eve of a nationwide shutdown called by Bangladesh's opposition party, police said.

Strike supporters attacked the buses overnight in Dhaka, city police chief Mizanur Rahman told AFP on Thursday.

More than 10,000 police and paramilitary forces had been deployed in the capital to prevent further violence, he added.

Bangladesh's main cities were brought to a near-standstill Thursday as the main opposition Awami League party enforced the fourth shutdown day in a week.

In Dhaka, private cars were off the road and schools, colleges and shops were closed. The situation was similar in the southern city of Khulna, the southeastern port city of Chittagong and northern Rajshahi, police said.

The Awami League has called the shutdowns to protest at a grenade attack on a rally last week that killed five people including a former minister.

A three-day strike ended Monday and two more shutdowns are planned for Saturday and Sunday.

The opposition enforced 22 protest shutdowns last year, despite pleas from aid donors and business groups who say such actions hit the nation's impoverished economy.

Most of last year's strikes were called as part of the Awami League's stepped-up campaign to oust the government, a four-party Islamist-allied coalition led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

The opposition accuses the government of failing to crack down on crime and corruption. The government says it is working hard to tackle a grim situation inherited from the Awami League's administration.

02. Protests broken up in Bangladesh
By Shahriar Karim

Opposition supporters and police have clashed in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on the first day of renewed anti-government protests.

Police have detained at least 50 people - the opposition says more than 100 of its members are under arrest.

The opposition called the strike in protest at the killing of former finance minister Shah Mohammad Kibria in a grenade attack last week.

The government has ordered an investigation into the killing.

Early on Thursday opposition activists tried to hold processions in different parts of Dhaka in support of the shutdown.

But police used batons to disperse them, leading to clashes.

Journalists covering the protest were also targeted by the police and a number of them were injured.

One police officer died of a heart attack while he was on strike duty.

Violent protests

The strike has forced shops, business centres and educational institutions to close.

Most traffic stayed off the streets except for some rickshaws and a few state-run buses that defied the protest.

In some places protesters burnt some vehicles that had defied the strike call.

On Wednesday, about a dozen people were injured when petrol bombs were thrown at two buses in the capital.

Extra security forces have now been deployed across Bangladesh.

Violent anti-government demonstrations broke out in Bangladesh after former finance minister Shah Mohammad Kibria, his nephew and three other opposition activists were killed in last Thursday's grenade attack in the north-eastern district of Habiganj.

No one has admitted carrying out the attack, but the opposition blames the government and is demanding fresh elections.

The government has dismissed allegations it is connected in any way with the bombing.

So far, police have arrested one person in connection with the explosion.