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Police, Ruling Party Activists Clash with Protesters in Bangladesh

Police officials wield bamboo sticks to stop main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party activist during a protest in Kachpur, on the outskirts of Dhaka, December 9, 2012.
Officials in Bangladesh say at least two people were killed and more than 200 injured when police and ruling party activists clashed with armed protesters staging blockades across the country to demand early elections under a caretaker government.

Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas in the capital, Dhaka, and several other districts Sunday to disperse the demonstrators who attacked vehicles with homemade bombs.

Police and witnesses said the protesters - supporters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies - set ablaze about 30 buses, trucks and cars in Dhaka and other parts of the country.

The deaths occurred in Dhaka and in Sirajganj, about 100 kilometers to the northwest.

Thousands of police have been deployed to try to keep roads open but witnesses said the main highway from Dhaka to the main port of Chittagong was deserted after it had been barricaded. Other roads around the country were also blocked.

A coalition of 18 opposition parties called for the nationwide protests Sunday to demand the restoration of a constitutional provision allowing an independent administration to oversee the next round of national polls, due in 2014.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government scrapped the 15-year-old provision last year after the supreme court ruled it unconstitutional. The opposition, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, said the change will allow Hasina to rig the election. She denies the allegation.