One officer was killed and more than 100 injured, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Faruk Hossain, telling AFP: “The constable was hacked in the head by opposition activists.”
The protests by the BNP and the largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, were the biggest so far this year, AFP journalists on site said and marked a new phase in their protests with a general election due within three months.
Hasina – daughter of the country’s founding leader – has been in power for 15 years and has overseen rapid economic growth with Bangladesh overtaking neighbouring India in GDP per capita, but inflation has risen and her government is accused of corruption and human rights abuses.
At least 20 people were rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the country’s largest, with wounds from rubber bullets, police inspector Bacchu Mia told AFP.
The clashes began in front of the city’s largest Catholic church when rowdy opposition supporters fought with sticks and allegedly torched a bus and a police post.
The BNP has called a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest the violence.
“Police and armed ruling party cadres attacked our peaceful rally,” party spokesman Zahir Uddin Swapan told AFP.
MONTHS OF PROTESTS
The resurgent opposition has been mounting protests to press their demands for months, despite the BNP’s ailing leader Khaleda Zia, a two-time premier and old foe of Hasina’s, being effectively under house arrest after a conviction on corruption charges.
Hundreds of opposition activists were detained in the days running up to the rally, officials confirmed, but her supporters poured into Dhaka on Saturday, crammed into buses despite checkpoints on roads into the capital, and even riding on top of packed trains.
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