Bangladesh has celebrated the 35th anniversary of its independence from Pakistan.

As part of Saturday's ceremonies, the head of the country's interim government, President Iajuddin Ahmed, laid a wreath at a war memorial near the capital, Dhaka. Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina also visited the memorial.

Bangladesh announced its independence from Pakistan in March 1971, sparking a bloody nine-month civil war in which millions died.

With assistance from neighboring India, Bangladesh defeated the Pakistani army and emerged as an independent nation in December 1971.

A 14-party political alliance headed by the Awami League has staged a series of often violent street protests in the run-up to the country's elections. The alliance is demanding electoral reforms ahead of the balloting, scheduled for January 23.

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