Dozens hurt in Dhaka clash ahead of polls
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Dozens hurt in Dhaka clash ahead of polls

At least 20 others were also detained even as a blockade aimed at derailing upcoming elections paralysed much of the Bangladesh.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2007 13:39 IST

Around a dozen people were injured and 20 detained in renewed clashes between police and activists on Monday as a blockade aimed at derailing upcoming elections paralysed much of the Bangladesh for a second day.

An agency cameraman said violence continued despite the deployment of extra forces, with police using batons and teargas to disperse the stone-throwing supporters of a multi-party alliance which has boycotted the January 22 ballot.

About 70 people including police were injured on Sunday, the first day of the three-day blockade.

On Monday, buses and lorries did not operate, deliveries from the ports were suspended and most businesses were closed, witnesses said.

Some taxis and rickshaws were operating within the capital Dhaka but alliance activists manned strategic points to prevent vehicles entering and leaving the city, they added.

The alliance, led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, head of the Awami League, called for the blockades in protest at what it sees as the interim government's inability to hold a free and fair vote.

It says President Iajuddin Ahmed, head of the interim authority, has failed to act neutrally and favours Hasina's rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, in the polls.

The alliance, which has threatened to block access to the presidential palace on Tuesday, wants Iajuddin to resign but he has refused.

The United States and European diplomats have expressed concern that Bangladesh is heading into a period of serious political instability.

An Iajuddin adviser said late on Sunday the interim government would consult rival parties in a last-minute effort to find a solution to the political stalemate, raising some hope of an end to the impoverished country's long-running political woes.

But analysts have said the only way out would be to postpone elections, which Hasina has demanded but Khaleda opposed.

At least 45 people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes between political rivals since Khaleda ended her five-year tenure as prime minister in late October and handed power to the interim authority.

Hasina and her allies want election officials "biased towards Khaleda" to be removed, a new election schedule and an overhaul of the list of registered voters to drop fake entries.

On Saturday, police banned rallies, blockades and other protests to try to maintain order in the run-up to the vote, warning offenders that they would be dealt with severely. The alliance ignored the ban.

First Published: Jan 08, 2007 12:47 IST