DHAKA: Hundreds of protesters in Bangladesh threw petrol bombs at police yesterday as opposition parties enforced a nationwide strike demanding elections under a neutral caretaker government.
As a top US official voiced concern about levels of violence in the country, there were reports of clashes in several big cities, including the capital Dhaka.
The worst unrest was seen in the northwestern city of Rajshahi where police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators after coming under attack from youths hurling Molotov cocktails.
“Up to 500 protesters pelted stones and petrol bombs. We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them,” deputy commissioner of Rajshahi police Shah Golam Mahmud said.
Schools, businesses and private offices were closed across the country and most roads were empty, with thousands of officers on patrol to try to prevent a repeat of violence on Sunday during a similar strike.
In Dhaka protesters smashed the windows of the car of the food secretary and also exploded at least four petrol bombs in front of the opposition headquarters, deputy police commissioner Anwar Hossain said. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party called the protest as they stepped up demands for elections.