Those detained in the capital before dawn on Sunday included Mohammad Nasim, former interior minister, and Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, a former state minister. Both are leaders of the Awami League.

 

Figures from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) who were detained included Nazmul Huda, former communications minister, and Ruhul Kuddus Talukder, Mir Nasiruddin, Amanullah Aman and Iqbal Hasan Mahmud, all ex-state ministers.

 

Postponed polls

   

An election planned for late January was postponed, and the interim government charged with holding the poll has vowed to root out corruption from the country's politics and administration.

 

The BNP is led by Begum Khaleda Zia, who stepped down last year to allow an interim government to hold elections. The Awami League is headed by Sheikh Hasina, her bitter rival and predecessor.

 

Security sources said several other influential figures from both parties were also detained.

 

Among them were Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a former MP and Khaleda's parliamentary affairs adviser, and the country's leading businessman and Hasina associate Salman F Rahman.

 

Also detained was Naser Rahman, son of Khaleda's finance minister, M Saifur Rahman.