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Dozens hurt in protest against power shortage

The clashes began after police blocked Oppn supporters from approaching the district electricity office in Shirajganj district.

india Updated: May 01, 2006 10:59 IST

Dozens were injured in northern Bangladesh on Sunday as police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters protesting over power cuts, police said.

Electricity is expected to be a key issue in the general election scheduled for January 2007, with the Opposition blaming the government for a lack of power for poor farmers.

The clashes began after police blocked more than 1,000 opposition supporters from approaching the district electricity office in Shirajganj district.

"The opposition supporters became unruly and hurled stones at us, prompting us to lob tear gas and use batons to disperse them," Abdul Jabbar, area police chief, told the agency.

Police said the area around the electricity office became a battlefield, with ruling party supporters attacking the opposition supporters led by the Awami League with stones and sticks.

"At least 10 policemen including myself were injured in the clashes," Jabbar said, adding that dozens overall were hurt.

The Awami League and its 13 opposition allies also held demonstrations in all major cities and towns on Sunday to protest at inadequate power supplies.

Bangladesh has been hit by power shortages in recent years as growing industrial and domestic demand outpaces supply. Some rural areas receive electricity for only four to six hours a day.

The state-run power generation authority, Power Development Board, said the shortfall has now peaked at around 1,500 megawatts a day.