Supporters of the Bangladesh Awami League (AL) ruling party gather during a peace rally in front of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 18 October 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/MONIRUL ALAM

1 dead, over 100 wounded as police, protesters clash in Bangladesh capital

Dhaka, Oct 28 (EFE).- At least one policeman was killed and more than 100 people were wounded on Saturday as the police clashed with activists of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in an attempt to foil a major anti-government rally in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

“There are many injured people here. We are not in a position to count it. But it seems between 100 and 150 injured people came. One policeman was killed,” Baccu Mia, in-charge of the Dhaka Medical College hospital police outpost, told EFE.

BNP postponed the rally, attended by thousands in front of its Dhaka’s Naya Paltan headquarters, an hour after it began as police allegedly fired rubber bullets and tear shells to disperse the opposition activists, according to an eyewitness.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhraul Islam announced the postponement of the rally and called for a strike in the country on Sunday.

The party’s media wing chief Zahir Uddin Swapan later confirmed to EFE that the strike was called in protest of the “heinous attack on the peaceful struggle for the restoration of democracy.”

Tension gripped Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, as major political parties, including the BNP and the ruling Awami League, called for rallies in the run-up to the forthcoming general election in January.

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the country, also held a rally in Dhaka on Saturday, defying a police ban.

Thousands of Jamaat activists broke the police barricade in Dhaka’s Motijheel area to hold a brief rally before leaving the place.

However, there was no report of altercations between the police and Jamaat activists.

On Friday, the BNP had accused the police of arresting at least 1,350 party leaders and activists during the week ahead of the rally.

Since its last major rally at the end of July, police have arrested 4,020 party leaders and activists, the BNP said.

During the rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government between 2009 and 2023, 1,539 BNP leaders and activists were killed and 1,204 went missing, it said.

The Awami League and BNP have ruled Bangladesh since 1991, except for a brief quasi-military rule in 2007–08. EFE