Police, protestors clash in Dhaka; scores hurt
Riot police in the Bangladeshi capital fired tear gas to stop thousands of stone-throwing opposition activists from marching to the country's civilian headquarters, police and opposition leaders said.
At least 100 people, including police, were injured during the clashes Thursday in central Dhaka, a police official said on condition of anonymity due to policy.
He said police used tear gas after the protesters began throwing stones at security forces and smashed several civilian vehicles. He gave no further details.
Opposition spokesman Mufazzal Chowdhury Maya said about 200 opposition activists have been injured. Maya said many were treated at private medical centres.
The clashes broke out after 5,000 protesters tried to overrun barbed-wire barricades that police erected around the Bangladesh Secretariat, a building housing government ministries, said private TV station ATN Bangla.
The protest was sponsored by the main opposition Awami League and its 13 allied parties to demand electoral reform ahead of the country's next polls scheduled for January 2007.
Opposition parties have accused the government of influencing the country's election commission in a bid to win the next general election.
They have demanded the resignation of three of the five commissioners for allegedly trying to create new voter lists that would favour the ruling coalition.
The opposition has alleged that corruption has been rife under Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's administration.
Zia's government denies the allegations and has vowed to remain in power until its five-year term expires in October.
On Thursday, Zia accused the opposition of creating anarchy. "We will not tolerate such activities, we will face them," she said during a public meeting outside the capital. Opposition leader Sheikh Hasina said the anti-government movement was intended to ensure the people's right to vote.
"But the government wants to manipulate the next general elections," said Hasina, a former prime minister. "We can't let that happen."