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Stray violence marks Bangladesh opposition enforced 36-hour hartal


19:23, April 23, 2013

DHAKA, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Stray incidents of violence are flaring up in parts of Bangladesh, as the main opposition alliance Tuesday enforced 36-hour hartal, throwing normal life out of gear across the South Asian country.

However, no major incidents have so far been reported.

Shortly after seven top leaders including Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were denied bail on Sunday evening, ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led 18-party alliance called the 36-hour non-stop strike from Tuesday morning.

Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, senior BNP standing committee member, announced the strike at a press briefing, saying the hartal is also to demand restoration of a non-party caretaker government system.

On account of the hartal, stray incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, explosion of hand bombs, chase and counter-chase, detention have been reported in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country since morning.

Like the previous hartal days, police were seen cordoning off the BNP headquarters in Dhaka's downtown Naya Paltan area which wore a deserted look on Tuesday.

Dozens of handmade bombs and cocktails were exploded merely in Dhaka in the early hours of hartal when nearly a dozen vehicles across Bangladesh were smashed or set on fire. Miscreants also torched at least eight vehicles on the eve of the hartal on Monday.

Riot police shot rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse stone-throwing protesters in parts of Bangladesh in the early hours of hartal which started at 6:00 a.m. local time. In Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, cops and pro-hartal activists reportedly locked in chase and counter-chase in which dozens of people including protesters and law enforcers were injured.

A severely injured assistant sub-inspector of police was flown to Dhaka on Monday evening for better treatment from Jessore, some 164 km southwest of capital Dhaka, where opposition men fought pitched battles with the law enforcers.

Khaleda's BNP-led alliance, which has long been demonstrating for restoration of the non-party caretaker system to hold next general elections slated for early 2014, said it won't join an election without a neutral poll-time government.

The Bangladesh Parliament in June, 2011 abolished the non-party caretaker government through the 15th constitution amendment, which means Prime Minister Sheik Hasina's incumbent Awami League ( AL)-led government will stay in power during the next national elections.

On account of the hartal, however, the usually busy streets of the capital looked almost deserted as most means of public and private transportation remained off the roads. Although inter- district buses stayed off the roads, the authorities claimed that operation of trains, launches and flights was usual.

Law enforcers were out in the capital streets early morning much before the hartal convenors and appeared firm not to let the pro-hartal pickets gather anywhere to bring out a procession.

But ruling party men brought out anti-hartal processions in different parts of the city.

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