B’desh blackouts trigger protests

200 hurt as protesters, cops clash

Dhaka, September 28 :

Riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas today at hundreds of demonstrators who attacked government offices and smashed vehicles to protest two days of near-constant power outages in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, witnesses said.

About 200 protesters were injured in the clashes, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported. Police did not give an injury figure. It was not immediately clear if security officials were hurt.

The violence broke out in Dhaka’s northern Mirpur district, where nearly 1,000 stone-throwing demonstrators rampaged through the streets. It spread to other parts of the city including the Shanir Akhra and Keraniganj areas, witnesses and the agency report said.

“The mob was becoming violent. We tried to prevent them from destroying government property,” a police official at the scene said on condition of anonymity.

The protesters put up barricades on a major Mirpur thoroughfare for hours, and torched at least two buses in the area.

Violent protests broke out in the city’s southern Saidabad district late yesterday, when demonstrators blocked roads and smashed vehicles, private TV station ATN Bangla reported.

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the country’s main opposition Awami League party walked out of a parliamentary session today, protesting the power outages. “This government is so inefficient that it even can’t provide electricity,” senior opposition lawmaker Abdur Razzak told the legislature before the walkout. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s five-year term expires next month. An election is due in January.