Bangladesh police have sprayed water cannon and bullets at government opposition protestors, killing one person. The banned mass protest is aimed at upsetting a January general election.
Police and opposition supporters clashed in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on Sunday as hundreds of demonstrators, some hurling homemade bombs, battled to gather at the opposition’s headquarters.
More than 11,000 police and elite Rapid Action Battalion officers were patrolling Dhaka in an attempt to stop the “March for Democracy,” police spokesperson Masudur Rahman told news agency AFP.
Police detained more than 1,000 opposition protestors as a “preventative measure,” he added.
Protestors were fired upon by police water cannon outside the national press club, an AFP reporter said.
In the neighborhood of Rampura, more than 200 demonstrators hurled small bombs at police, who retaliated by firing shotguns in the direction of the protestors, leaving one person dead, a senior police officer told reporters.
“We fired shotguns to disperse the protestors, who exploded dozens of small bombs,” assistant police commissioner Nur Alam Siddiqui told AFP.
A 21-year-old bleeding protestor was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died, police official Mozammel Haque said.
Bus, ferry and train services have been suspended, cutting the city off from the rest of the country.
Weeks of protests
The government’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies have held weeks of violent demonstrations, strikes and transport blockades in an attempt to force the country’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, to resign.
Hasina’s rival, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, is expected to address the rally later on Sunday, defying bans on large-scale political gatherings.
Police reportedly surrounded Zia’s home in the suburb of Gulshan, parking sand-filled trucks in front of exits to prevent her leaving.
The BNP says the January 5 election must be held under a neutral caretaker government to prevent vote-rigging.
More than 150 people have died in the political upheaval since October.
jlw/tj (AFP, AP)