Four anti-government protesters were killed Monday in Bangladesh in clashes with security forces on the first anniversary of the disputed re-election of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Street protests erupted in several cities, with protesters hurling rocks at police who opened fire and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.
After early violence in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, streets were nearly empty, with authorities cutting off bus, rail and ferry service into the city.
In a televised address to her nation, Hasina blamed opposition leader, former prime minister Khaleda Zia for the violence. The Bangladeshi leader called on Zia "to stop these bomb and grenade attacks, these acts of sabotage, and killings, of arson and damage to property."
Hasina won re-election to a second five-year term a year ago after Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and 19 other opposition parties boycotted the poll, claiming the outcome would be rigged. The political rivalry intensified recently when Hasina announced rallies to celebrate the anniversary of her re-election, with Zia calling for anti-government protests.
Zia, blockaded in her party headquarters by police, stepped outside to tell supporters that a new election must be held "to reinstitute the voting rights of the people." She called last year's election "not acceptable."