4 killed, 600 injured as Bangladesh protests turn violent (PHOTOS)
“Our four people were killed and 600 leaders and activists were injured in attacks by police and ruling party men across the country,” said Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), as cited by Xinhua.
Protesters reportedly threw small handmade bombs, stones, blocked roads and set fire to vehicles, destroying more than 100 cars during clashes in the capital.
Police arrested 50 people during the violence. Around 10,000 officers were positioned throughout the country to keep highways open, AFP reported.
One protester died in a knife attack during violent clashes between pro- and anti-government activists in the Sirajganj district northwest of Dhaka, local police reported. Another demonstrator was killed by a speeding bus when protesters rushed to stop it.
Bangladeshi police remove a fire set by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters during a protest in Narayanganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on December 9, 2012.(AFP Photo / Munir uz Zaman)
The protests were organized by 18 opposition parties, who called for a shutdown of the nation's roads until a neutral caretaker administration was restored to oversee the 2014 elections. The transitional system was originally institutionalized in 1996, but was scrapped last year by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government on the basis that it was unconstitutional.
The caretaker government is responsible preventing election fraud by organizing elections and the transfer of power. It is given three months to do so, and is headed by nonpartisan officials.
Bangladeshi police detain a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporter during a protest in Narayanganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on December 9, 2012.(AFP Photo / Munir uz Zaman)
The Bangladeshi opposition fear that Prime Minister Hasina will now have the power to rig the upcoming election.
The last four elections in the country were held under the caretaker government system; many opposition parties are saying that they will not participate in the upcoming polls unless the system is restored.
The previous caretaker government in 2007 tried to crack down on corruption by sending hundreds of politicians, including Hasina, to jail on charges of abuse of power. All were later released before the 2008 general election.
A pro-government activist (L) attacks an activist of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), suspected of vandalising a bus, as police try to save him during a nationwide blockade in Kachpur near Dhaka December 9, 2012.(Reuters / Andrew Biraj)
Police arrest an activist of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), suspected of vandalising a bus during a nationwide blockade in Kachpur near Dhaka December 9, 2012.(Reuters / Andrew Biraj)
Activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) shout slogans as they set fire to tyres during a nationwide blockade in Dhaka December 9, 2012.(Reuters / Andrew Biraj)