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Bangladesh Police Attack Protesters in Capital


Riot police in Bangladesh fired tear gas and used batons Thursday against opposition activists during a general strike that shut down the capital, Dhaka.

Details are incomplete, but witnesses say at least 30 people were hurt, bringing the injury toll from a series of clashes between security forces and demonstrators this week to well over 100.

Normal activity in Dhaka, a city of 10 million, came to a halt today during the general strike - the fifth mass protest action ordered this year by the opposition Awami League and a coalition of 13 other parties.

Police also used tear-gas Wednesday to break up a march on Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's headquarters. Witnesses reported at least four separate clashes, and authorities ordered a 24-hour ban on rallies near the prime minister's office.

Opposition leader Sheikh Hasina and her supporters are demanding electoral reforms ahead of elections expected later this year, after the current government's term expires in October. Ms. Zia, who has ruled Bangladesh since 2001, insists that any talks between the two sides must include the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, one of her coalition partners.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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