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Violent Clashes in Dhaka Injure Scores


At least 100 people have been injured in clashes with police in Bangladesh's capital - as anti-government protesters tried to blockade Dhaka in defiance of a court order.

Riot police used sticks, tear gas and even shot at protesters who were trying to block access to Dhaka from several points across the city.

Thousands of anti-government activists threw stones and set fires in retaliation.

The High Court had banned th demonstration and police had detained about five-thousand people ahead of time.

The protest - called the "Dhaka Siege" - was planned by a coalition of 14 opposition parties. Abdul Jalil - General Secretary of the main opposition Awami League - says their aim is simple.

"We want to implement the reforms program for a free and fair election," Abdul Jalil says.

Jalil says they will launch indefinite strikes to force Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to implement electoral reforms ahead of January elections.

The opposition wants to participate in the selection of members in the independent electoral commission, saying the government has manipulated the system to ensure victory in the next general ballot.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's second five-year term is due to end in October. A caretaker administration will be put in place until the January polls, as required by the Constitution.

Bangladeshi politics often spills into the streets of the capital with protesters often demanding the resignation of the prime minister in charge. It is a tactic used by both the Awami League and the prime minister's Bangladesh National Party, which have dominated politics for the past 15 years.

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