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Anti-Government Strike Turns Violent in Bangladesh

April 02, 2001|From Associated Press

DHAKA, Bangladesh — One man was killed and 200 people were injured Sunday during the start of a three-day general strike intended to force Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed's resignation, police said.

A truck driver was killed in a bomb attack blamed on strikers in Feni, 80 miles southeast of Dhaka, the capital, police said.

Scores of homemade bombs went off in Dhaka, injuring at least 35 people. An additional 165 people were hurt in clashes between rival groups in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and Sirajganj. Police arrested 120 opposition activists on rioting charges.

More than 1,000 opposition activists paraded through the otherwise empty streets of Dhaka in small groups, chanting, "Down with the corrupt government!" They accuse Wajed's government of corruption and harassment of political rivals and are demanding early elections.

Several hundred members of the governing party marched as well, shouting slogans against the strike.

Commuters, mostly government employees, used tricycle rickshaws to travel to work as buses and private cars stayed off the streets for fear of attacks by strikers.

Nearly 6,000 security personnel fanned out across Dhaka, a city of 9 million.

The strike shut down businesses and schools and halted most traffic in Dhaka and 60 other cities and towns.

Planes, trains and river ferries operated despite the strike, authorities said.

Sunday is a workday in Bangladesh, a majority Muslim nation of 130 million people.

The strike was called after Wajed ignored an opposition ultimatum to step down by Friday. She vowed to stay in power until her government's term expires July 13.

An alliance of four opposition parties--the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, National Party, Bangladesh Islamic Assembly and Islamic Unity Front--called the strike.

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