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Central & South Asia

Bangladesh opposition protest turns violent

Clashes erupt in Dhaka during second day of nationwide general strike, killing one and injuring 20 others.

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2013 15:36
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Jamaat-e-Islami members called the strike to denounce a court decision that deems the party illegal [AP]

Clashes between Bangladeshi police and activists supporting a major Islamic opposition political party has left one person dead and about 20 injured on the second day of a nationwide general strike, local media has reported.

Police fired rubber bullets on Wednesday to disperse dozens of protesters, belonging to the Jamaat-e-Islami party, who tried to block a highway in Meherpur district, 175km west of Dhaka, local television station ETV reported. 

Opposition activists set off crude bombs, blocked roads and burned vehicles to enforce a 48-hour nationwide general strike, injuring dozens of people.

Another 30 people were injured as homemade bombs went off in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, the TV station said. 

'Lost balance'

Media reports said the man who died was a local leader of the party's student wing, but local police chief Rafiqul Islam told The Associated Press news agency that he was yet to be identified.

Islam also denied reports that the man died of injuries caused by police, saying he died when he fled from police, fell and hit his head on a parked car.

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"We are no way responsible for this. They attacked police, blew bombs targeting us, so we had to fire rubber bullets in self-defence," he said. "He is unlucky that he lost balance when fleeing and hit a roadside vehicle."

The party, which is the country's largest Islamic party, called the strike to denounce a court decision that its registration with the Election Commission is invalid.

A High Court panel ruled on August 1 that the party's regulations violate the constitutional provision of secularism by saying it wants to impose Sharia, or Islamic law. Because of the court decision, the party could be barred from taking part in the next elections.

The ruling against Jamaat came amid calls to ban the party for opposing the country's 1971 independence war against Pakistan.

Five party leaders have been sentenced to either death or life imprisonment for crimes against humanity linked to the independence war.

Several others, including party chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, are standing trial on charges of war crimes stemming from the 1971 war.

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Source:
Associated Press
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