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Bangladesh paralysed by strike
Monday, June 6, 2011
Police said two blasts occurred near the headquarters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which called the strike in protest at a government move to change the country's election system.
"These are small bombs. One police sub-inspector has been injured in the blasts," said Dhaka's deputy police commissioner Anwar Hossain. In Mirpur a rickshaw-puller was injured in another small blast, police said.
At least 8,000 police and 1,500 paramilitary forces were deployed in the city to prevent violence, local police officials said, while thousands more were on duty across the country.
Security has been tightened across the city after violence overnight saw a dozen buses torched and 40 people arrested, police said.
"We have tight security arrangement throughout the city. So far the situation is peaceful. There is no incidence of violence anywhere in the capital," Dhaka police commissioner Benazir Ahmed told AFP.
Shops, businesses and schools were shut throughout the country and major roads and highways were deserted.
At least 2,000 policemen were deployed in the port city of Chittagong, city special branch police chief Meshbahuddin Ahmed said.
Cargo operations at the port, which handles 90 per cent of Bangladesh's US$40 billion of foreign trade, ground to a halt as it was cut off from the rest of the country by the strike.
Police beat protesters in two towns just outside of Dhaka, after they were attacked with bricks and stones.
The incidents have left at least 30 people injured, according to the online edition of the English Daily Star.
The strike was called after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from the ruling Awami League party announced plans last week to scrap the country's tradition of appointing a caretaker government during election time.
The system is designed to cover three months over an election period in Bangladesh, a nation which has a long history of political violence since its independence in 1971.
Opposition leader Khaleda Zia told reporters Saturday her party would not contest future polls if the government scrapped the caretaker system, which has covered four successive elections.
The strike is the fourth the BNP has called since it suffered a crushing defeat in December 2008 elections. Its main Islamic allies have lent support to the strike.