Bangladesh hit by bomb blasts as opposition parties enforce general strike

 

Homemade bombs exploded in Bangladesh's capital today and police fired tear gas at demonstrators as opposition parties enforced a general strike, demanding that the government restore an election-time caretaker administration.

Schools and businesses were closed in Dhaka and other major cities and towns during the eight-hour shutdown. Nationwide transportation was largely disrupted during the second opposition strike this week.

Witnesses and TV stations reported that police fought pitched battles with opposition activists in parts of Dhaka, but it was not immediately clear if anyone was injured.

Several vehicles whose drivers tried to defy the strike were either torched or smashed, police said.

Bangla Vision and Massranga television stations said dozens of people were detained in major cities.

A coalition of 18 opposition parties was enforcing the strike to demand that the caretaker government be restored before the next national elections due in 2014.

A key coalition partner is also pressing for freedom of its leaders facing charges of crimes against humanity involving the 1971 independence war against Pakistan.

The protest is led by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, headed by former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamic party and the main partner of Mr Zia's party, has been demanding the release of nine of its leaders facing charges of crimes against humanity. Two other leaders from Mr Zia's party face similar charges and are in jail.

Mr Zia has criticised the trial, calling it politically motivated.

Jamaat-e-Islami leaders are accused of abetting the Pakistani army in killing and raping during the war. The party says the charges are aimed at weakening it.

In 1971, Bangladesh - at the time the eastern wing of Pakistan - became independent, aided by India, after a nine-month war against Pakistan.

Mr Zia's party demanded the release of a senior leader who was arrested on charges of instigating violence earlier this week.

The government of prime minister Sheikh Hasina last year scrapped the 15-year-old caretaker government system during elections following a Supreme Court ruling that the constitution allows only popularly elected governments. Opposition parties fear the election will be rigged if the current party remains in power.

Hasina's government said the main opposition must return to parliament and place any alternative to the system for next elections. MPs from Mr Zia's party have been boycotting parliamentary proceedings for months amid street protests.

Mr Hasina's Awami League party and Mr Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party are the main contenders for power.

The opposition enforced a nationwide road blockade on Sunday and a nationwide general strike on Tuesday. The protests turned violent.

The South Asian country, a parliamentary democracy, has a history of political violence.

The United States has urged the government and the opposition to hold talks to resolve differences over the election row.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

English Teacher

£22000 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on