An uneasy calm prevailed in poll-bound Bangladesh on Sunday after the army was called in by the interim government to maintain law and order as the Awami League-led 14-party alliance vowed to stage demonstrations in Dhaka to enforce electoral reforms.
Army troops in battle fatigues rolled out around 4:00 am from the barracks and raided the homes of some listed criminals, according to reports.
The army personnel also patrolled the streets of some of the major cities across the country.
"We have come to work in aid of the civil administration and the question of siding with any political party does not arise," an officer on duty told a local TV channel.
In a guarded reaction to deployment of the army, the 14-party alliance led by former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed said it would welcome the move if the armed forces took steps against crime and corruption.
AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil said, "People will welcome the army... If they took steps against those who were involved in crime and corruption during the rule of the BNP-Jamaat alliance."
Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party welcomed the army deployment.
Meanwhile US ambassador Patricia Butenis and her British counterpart Anwar Choudhury held talks with Sheikh Hasina to end the political stand-off but no details were available.
President Iajuddin Ahmed's caretaker government last night decided to deploy army "to maintain law and order and aid the civil administration."
Dhaka Metropolitan Police banned all kinds of gatherings and carrying of weapons around 'Bangabhaban' here after the 14-party alliance said it would hold sit-ins around the Presidential Palace.