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Dhaka sees first clashes of 2006

Dhaka sees first clashes of 2006

Some 60 people were injured in clashes between police and activists from rival political groups in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka yesterday.

Most of the injuries occurred when militant supporters of opposition Jatiya Party, led by former military ruler Hossain Mohammad Ershad, stormed a small rally of Bangladesh Communist Party, witnesses said.

The attackers burned books and furniture, and roughed up communist supporters before police arrived and chased away angry crowds, Reuters cameraman Rafiqur Rahman said.

Jatiya supporters also attacked and damaged a number of vehicles, including buses, he added.

As panic spread to nearby streets, a speeding bus knocked down a man, killing him on the spot, police said.

The communists have been an ally of the main opposition party, the Awami League, during its campaign to force out Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia out, accusing her government of failing to control prices and harbouring militants.

The Jatiya Party is likely to join an alliance with Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the next parliamentary elections, due in January 2007, but Ershad has said he is still undecided.

About 20 people were injured when police attacked Awami League supporters trying to march on the office of the Election Commission in the capital, witnesses said.

They were angry about the start yesterday of the creation of a new list of electors,calling it wrong to make a list before other election issues were settled.

They want the Election Commission to be reformed to make it truly independent and capable of holding free and fair elections.

The opposition also wants reform of Bangladesh's system of handing power to a panel of advisers at election time, which the constitution empowers to supervise the polls. The caretaker administration should be agreed by the ruling and opposition parties.

The government says it cannot be reformed as "the system worked perfectly in the last three elections."

Bangladesh marked the New Year amid tight security in the wake of a wave of bomb attacks, including suicide bombings, by Islamists calling for introduction of sharia law, replacing Bangladesh's secular democratic constitution.

Analysts said Bangladesh, the world's third most populous Muslim country after Indonesia and Pakistan, was very likely to see more militancy in the run up to the polls.

Updated : 2022-05-19 08:08 GMT+08:00