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Five dead in Bangladesh's opposition clashes

The violence came as Zia's BNP-led coalition Govt prepared to hand power to an interim administration that will hold polls within 90 days.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 18:05 IST

At least five people were killed in overnight skirmishes between supporters of the coalition government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and opposition activists across Bangladesh, officials said on Saturday.

Violence erupted in Dhaka as Zia finished a 45-minute televised address to the nation on Friday night marking the end of her five-year rule.

Street battles between rival groups left two people dead and several injured in Dhaka, which was the scene of sporadic violence.

Buses and cars were set on fire and shops and homes ransacked allegedly by looters as violence spread to other cities and towns across the country.

Three activists of the governing Islamist coalition were killed as unidentified attackers gunned them down outside Dhaka, witnesses said.

Buses and cars were off the streets of the capital on Saturday and supporters barricaded main highways linking the capital to the rest of the country.

Officials and television news channels also reported sporadic clashes all over the capital, although no further details were available.

The violence came as Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's BNP-led coalition government prepared to hand power to an interim administration that will hold elections within 90 days.

The government's term expired at midnight on Friday although it has 15 days to transfer authority to the caretaker body.

The opposition, however, has vowed to paralyse the country with protests and blockades if the government installs former Supreme Court justice KM Hasan as the head of the administration.

It accuses Hasan, who served as the BNP's international affairs secretary in the late 1970s, of being partisan and says free and fair polls are not possible with him in the post.

First Published: Oct 28, 2006 14:11 IST