Bangladesh opposition-led strike paralyses daily life

AP , Thursday 22 Sep 2011

A day-long strike is held in parts of Bangladesh by the opposition party against rising prices, yet minor scuffles were reported as security forces flooded the capital Dhaka, according to witnesses and police

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and allies called for the dawn-to-dusk strike after a recent hike in fuel prices and what they claimed was harassment by police and pro-government activists.

"The government has increased fuel prices at a time when people's suffering has already peaked due to inflation running high," said the BNP's acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.

Shops were shut throughout the capital though some offices opened with skeleton staff and trading at the Dhaka Stock Exchange continued normally.

"So far, today's strike has been peaceful under tight watch by security forces," a senior police officer said. Minor scuffles have been reported by witnesses and police.

Earlier this week Bangladesh raised all refined petroleum fuel and compressed natural gas prices, the second such hike since May this year, which triggered protests by transport owners and criticism from the BNP.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's ruling Awami League however criticised the "issueless" strike as an attempt to force a fresh election and derail government reforms.

"Such sinister moves will be thwarted by law enforcing agencies and the patriotic people," Home Minister Sahara Khatun said.

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