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Violence mars opposition rally in Bangladesh

A crude bomb explosion has killed at least one person in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, as violent clashes broke out between police and opposition party activists gathered to mark the country’s 40th independence anniversary, police said.

The death was reported in Dhaka's central Motijheel commercial district, Bazlul Rashid, a local police official, said on Sunday.

The clashes erupted in the morning, as police dispersed supporters of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally Jamat-e-Islami, coming together in central Dhaka.

At least five vehicles, including a police jeep, were set on fire during Sunday's violence, the United News of Bangladesh news agency reported.

Police intervened after some stone-throwing activists attacked vehicles and set some of them on fire, Masudur Rahman, a senior police official, said.

BNP activists armed with small bombs, bricks and sticks also clashed with law-enforcing agencies near the Dhaka University area, police said.

"They threw at least seven small bombs at us. But no one was injured," Rezaul Karim, head of one police station, said.

Political violence

Police have rounded up nearly 250 opposition activists.

Television footage showed police chasing dozens of stone-throwing protesters. Private television station ATN News reported that at least 15 homemade bombs exploded in parts of the city during the violence.

It had not been confirmed whether the victim of Sunday's violence was an opposition activist or if was trying to flee the clashes between police and opposition supporters.

However, BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed said the young man was an activist for the party and blamed police for the death.

Bangladesh became an independent nation after a bloody nine month battle with Pakistan that ended 40 years ago on December 16, 1971.

The South Asian nation has a history of political instability and the BNP and its allies have recently held a series of strikes in a new wave of unrest.


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