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Police Clash With Protesting Workers in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi garment workers throw objects towards policemen during clashes in Dhaka, 30 Jun 2010

Police in Bangladesh have used clubs, tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of textile workers protesting low wages in capital city Dhaka.

The clashes erupted Wednesday in the Mirpur and Sheorapara areas of the capital, forcing several factories to close down. Authorities say the protesters erected street barricades and hurled bricks at police.

Witnesses say at least 40 people, including police officers, were injured in the violence.

The unrest is the latest in a series of violent protests involving low-paid workers producing garments for global brands. Garment factories accounted for 80 percent of Bangladesh's annual export earnings last year.

Supporters of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami took to the streets on Wednesday to protest the arrests of three of their leaders the day before. At least 20 people were detained during the demonstrations in Dhaka and other parts of the country.

The head of Jamaat-Islami, Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, and two other officials were arrested Tuesday on charges of offending the religious sentiments of Muslims.

The three men were summoned to court to address charges they offended Islam by comparing Nizami to the Prophet Mohammad. The leader of the religious group Bangladesh Tarikat Federation filed the legal complaint.

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