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Tension after day of violence

Arrest of 33 opposition leaders sparks unrest, general strike

Tension after day of violence
Riot police take a break along a street in the center of Dhaka yesterday reporter, Dhaka

May 18, 2012

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Security forces in Bangladesh were on high alert yesterday after violent clashes broke out across the country on Wednesday following the arrest and jailing of 33 senior opposition leaders. They were arrested after submitting a bail application at a Dhaka court in connection with an arson attack during anti-government protests on April 29. More opposition figures were reportedly arrested yesterday in the aftermath of the violence on Wednesday after protesters attacked vehicles and buildings and clashed with police in the capital and in other towns across the country. Reports say some of the protesters were armed with homemade bombs. Most institutions and businesses were closed yesterday, having answered a call for a general strike by the country’s 18-party opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Police and security forces were out in force in the capital and elsewhere in the country to deter further violence, while the BNP’s headquarters in Dhaka’s Naya Paltan district has been sealed off. BNP leaders accused the government of trying to deny the opposition their democratic rights and also of using the judiciary to suppress opposition voices. “The government can’t stop our movement by arresting our leaders. History tells us that whenever the ruling party cracks down heavily on the opposition, the movement becomes more powerful,” Nazrul Islam, a senior BNP leader told journalists. Another BNP leader Moudud Ahmed said the 33 opposition figures were arrested for political reasons and that no specific charges had been laid against them. Related reports: Opposition demands leader’s return Calls for caretaker government BNP rally raises tension in capital  

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