Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Strike paralyzes Bangladesh for third straight day

AP , DHAKA

A nationwide strike to force election reforms paralyzed traffic and business in Bangladesh for the third straight day yesterday, after violent clashes left two demonstrators dead and dozens injured.

Thousands of slogan-chanting protesters choked the streets and highways leading into the capital, Dhaka -- cutting the city of 10 million people off to the rest of the country. Similar disruptions have been reported in more than 60 other cities and towns, ATN Bangla TV station reported.

There was no immediate violence reported on Wednesday, after clashes between rival political activists killed two people and injured dozens on Tuesday.

The violence on Tuesday occurred despite an interim government's pledge that it was nearing a solution to the impasse over election commissioners, installed by the former prime minister. A 14-party alliance says the commissioners are biased.

Armed partisans of former prime minister Khaleda Zia attacked a procession of former supporters who broke away to form a new party, said Mohammad Ali, a spokesman for the breakaway faction.

A statement issued by Zia's party denied responsibility for the attack.

Two supporters of the Liberal Democratic Party were badly beaten and died later in a state-run hospital in Chittagong, southeast of Dhaka, said a doctor there, Ajoy Deb.

The Liberal Democratic Party is not part of the 14-party alliance led by Sheikh Hasina, but has extended support for the strikes.

The attack in Chittagong left 25 people hurt, including four policemen, as rival activists fought with rocks and sticks.

In Bogra, north of Dhaka, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a fight between rival supporters that injured about 25 people, the domestic United News of Bangladesh news agency said.

In Dhaka, supporters and opponents of the strike briefly clashed at the Dhaka University campus, ATN Bangla network reported. At least three homemade bombs -- explosives in small tin pots -- went off during the melee. No one was hurt.

Schools and stores remained shut yesterday, and demonstrators continued to barricade rail stations, disrupting train services, and blocked cars and public buses.

The 14-party alliance resumed an indefinite nationwide strike on Monday after the interim government failed to meet a deadline to remove Chief Election Commissioner M.A. Aziz and his three deputies over the bias allegations.

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