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General Strike Paralyzes Bangladesh

October 19, 1998

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ At least 50 people were injured and another 70 detained by police after clashes Sunday during a general strike called by the opposition to protest the government’s handling of flood relief.

Using crude bombs and exchanging gunfire, the protesters fought with supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, police said. Rafiqual Islam, a former minister, was among the injured.

Police said several people were shot and taken to hospitals. Hasina’s supporters marched through the streets of the capital, Dhaka, leading to confrontation with opposition activists.

Nearly 5,000 police and paramilitary soldiers were deployed to quell the unrest.

Seven opposition parties banded together to enforce a 12-hour shutdown accusing Hasina’s government of harassing opposition activists and siphoning off funds meant for flood victims. Most traffic was stopped and stores closed Sunday, paralyzing the city of nine million people.

Hasina denied the allegations in a nationally broadcast speech Saturday night.

Sunday is a working day in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, where the sabbath is observed on Friday.

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