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One dead, 30 hurt in Bangladesh street clash

The clash began when Jatiya Party supporters reached the downtown area where Communist Party of Bangladesh was holding a rally.

world Updated: Jan 02, 2006 13:49 IST

A fierce street clash between supporters of two rival opposition parties left at least one person dead and 30 others injured on Sunday in the Bangladeshi capital, police and hospital sources said.

The clash began when a large procession of Jatiya Party supporters reached a downtown area where the Communist Party of Bangladesh was holding a rally, said a police officer, who cannot be named under official briefing rules.

Supporters of the rival parties fought with bricks and bamboo sticks, and burned or damaged about 20 buses and cars in the busy office district. The mob also attacked several roadside businesses, witnesses said.

Hundreds of people participated in the political rallies, according to Ruhul Amin, a Jatiya Party spokesman, and Manjurul Hasan Khan, spokesman for the Communist Party. The police officer said he didn't know how many people were involved in the clash. Baton-wielding riot police and fire fighters broke up the fighting after about an hour, but no arrests were made.

Office workers fled in panic, and hundreds of vehicles became trapped. Shops and cafes also closed their doors. More than 30 people were injured in the melee, at least 18 seriously, including party activists and bystanders. They were taken to nearby Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where a young man died of his injuries, a doctor at the state-run facility said on customary condition of anonymity.

The doctor said the victim _ who was hit by a speeding car apparently fleeing the scene _ was a Jatiya Party supporter. The Jatiya Party, led by former military dictator Hossain Mohammad Ershad, was celebrating its 20th anniversary Sunday, while the communist party staged the rally to protest imperialism and price hikes, party sources said.

Ershad and his wife, Raushan, who is a member of parliament, led the procession but the two were unhurt in the violence. The Communist Party of Bangladesh said Jatiya Party activists attacked its rally, near its downtown office.

"They could have easily taken another route. This incident shows the dictator has not changed his character," Communist Party spokesman Khan told reporters, adding that Jatiya Party supporters pelted his party's offices with bricks and sticks, damaging windows and furniture.

Jatiya Party denied starting the confrontation. "They attacked us when we were passing through the area," said Amin.

"We had no information that another rally was taking place in the area. We have nothing against them," Ershad later told reporters while visiting the injured in hospital. The Communist Party plans to demonstrate Monday to protest the incident, Khan said.

The Jatiya Party has a few seats in the national parliament, while the Communist Party has none.

First Published: Jan 01, 2006 22:40 IST