Mar 12, 2013 / 6:33 am
Several bombs exploded in Bangladesh's capital and police clashed with protesters Tuesday as opposition leaders enforced a daylong, nationwide general strike over what they say is police intimidation.
Witnesses and news reports said several homemade bombs exploded during the beginning of the shutdown. RTV and Bangla Vision stations reported explosions in different areas of Dhaka. It was not clear if there were any injuries.
Small-scale clashes were reported inside and outside Dhaka, and thousands of security officials were deployed in the capital to maintain order.
Nearly 400 members of paramilitary Bangladesh Border Guard were deployed to aid police in Dhaka, said Maj. Gen. Aziz Ahmed, the force's director general.
Schools and most businesses in Dhaka were closed Tuesday. Traffic was thin on the usually clogged streets.
An 18-party opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, or BNP, was enforcing the strike to protest alleged police intimidation during a rally on Monday.
The party and its allies are demanding restoration of a caretaker government system to oversee upcoming elections. Its ally Jamaat-e-Islami also wants a halt to trials of several opposition politicians accused of crimes stemming from the country's 1971 independence war.
After Monday's rally, police arrested some senior leaders and more than 100 activists of the BNP, headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, during a raid on its party headquarters in Dhaka. Police said they recovered at least 10 homemade bombs from the headquarters. But the party accused police of putting the bombs inside the headquarters to create a drama.
BNP's acting secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, a former mayor of Dhaka City Corp. and a former home minister were among those detained.
On Tuesday afternoon, authorities released three leaders including Alamgir after they had been held for nearly 18 hours.
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