12 killed in Bangladesh clashes

Violent protests have continued in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka as the man due to takeover as interim leader ahead of elections withdrew.

    More than 15,000 policemen have been deployed in Dhaka

    An official of Bangladesh's ruling party was hacked to death on Saturday as the death toll across the country rose to 12, and 2,000 injured, police said on Saturday.


    The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) official was attacked by supporters of the Awami League, the main opposition in the southern region of Bagerhat, Bahadur Sharif, a police officer said.


    "He was hacked repeatedly with machetes and died on the spot," Sharif said.


    Seven others were killed on Saturday as thousands of supporters of the opposition parties and the ruling BNP went on the rampage, clashing with police in the capital and elsewhere.


    Police clashed with nearly 10,000 demonstrators who tried to hold a banned rally in the city centre.


    Around 100 police officers were also injured, police said.


    Riot police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and warning shots into the air to disperse thousands of protesters who were throwing stones.


    K.M. Hasan, a

    former supreme court chief justice, was due to be sworn in as caretaker leader on Saturday, taking over from Begum Khaleda Zia, the prime minister, whose five-year mandate ended on Friday.


    But a presidential spokesman said late on Friday that Hasan, who opposition politicians argue is biased in favour of the government and unsuitable to organise a general election due in January, was ill and unable to take the oath. 


    Caretaker Leader


    On Saturday, Iajuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh president, summoned leaders of the main political parties to discuss the crisis.

    Political party supporters threw

    stones at each other

    "The president has informed both the ruling and the opposition parties that former Supreme Court justice K.M. Hasan has expressed his inability to head the caretaker government," Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, press secretary for the president, said after the meeting.
    Abdul Jalil, general secretary of the opposition Awami League, said the president would nominate an alternative caretaker leader by Sunday evening when Khaleda would hand over power.


    The 14-party opposition alliance led by Sheikh Hasina, the former prime minister, had opposed Khaleda's plan to install Hasan as interim administrator, citing his past association with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).


    The alliance had vowed to paralyse the country if the government went ahead with the plan, and urged Ahmed to avert a political crisis and not swear in Hasan.





    Nearly 150 injured people were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital alone on Saturday and about 350 others were admitted elsewhere in the country during Staurday's violence.
    Witnesses said police fired rubber bullets and tear gas trying to disperse the fighters, who included members of the opposition Awami League, the BNP and BNP ally Jamaat-e-Islami.

    "The president has informed both the ruling and the opposition parties that former Supreme Court justice K.M. Hasan has expressed his inability to head the caretaker government."

    Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, press secretary for President Iajuddin Ahmed

    Several policemen were hurt by stones and brickbats hurled by the rioters, who damaged dozens of vehicles in the capital.
    In the southern coastal district of Barisal, the home of former President Abdur Rahman Biswas, a BNP member, was set on fire.


    Street battles broke out between rival political activists on Friday evening after Prime Minister Khaleda finished her farewell address on state television, when she called for peace once she stepped down the next day.


    Protesters blocked highways, burned vehicles, attacked offices of the BNP and the homes of some ministers, police and witnesses said.


    SOURCE: Agencies


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