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UK advises citizens to avoid northwest Bangladesh

The travel advisory to the northwestern Phulbari town came after people died in protests against plans for an open-pit coal mine.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2006 12:38 IST

Britain has advised its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Phulbari, the northwestern town in Bangladesh where five people have been killed in protests against plans for an open-pit coal mine.

"The Foreign Office have on Friday advised against all but essential travel to part of North West Bangladesh following recent civil unrest in which there have been fatalities and serious injuries," a statement from Britain's foreign ministry said on Thursday, specifically pointing to Phulbari.

Bangladesh has bowed to demands from protestors and cancelled a 1.4-billion dollar plan by the British firm Asia Energy to build an open-pit coal mine, a minister said on Thursday.

The climbdown followed almost a week of violent protests by farmers and locals in Phulbari that left at least five demonstrators and a police officer in the capital dead.

"We have agreed to all the demands (of the protestors)," Asadul Habib Dulu, junior food and relief minister, said.

Thousands of people, concerned about the mine's impact on the environment and their livelihoods, celebrated the decision with a rally in Phulbari.

Plans to construct the mine, 350 kms north of Dhaka, had stirred huge protests by locals who said it would damage the environment and displace more than 100,000 people.

London-based Asia Energy rejected the complaints, saying 40,000 people would be displaced over 30 years and those affected would be fully compensated and helped to resume their livelihoods elsewhere.

First Published: Sep 01, 2006 11:16 IST