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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Clashes erupt across Bangladesh
Protesters set fire to a tea stall in Dhaka
Violence spread to about a dozen towns and cities
Clashes have erupted between police and opposition supporters across Bangladesh after a bloody attack on a political rally in Dhaka, which killed 19 people.

Rioters set fire to a train east of the capital and there were reports of violence in about a dozen other towns and cities.

Thousands of people attended prayers for the victims of Saturday's attack on Awami League party supporters.

Party leaders have called for a two-day national strike starting on Tuesday.

Beaten back

In the worst outbreak of violence, at least 17 people were hurt when a passenger train running between Chittagong and Dhaka was set alight by protesters.

I just sat down and people were running over me
Muhammad Alamgir,

Rioters also reportedly attacked a train station and damaged cars and shops.

Reuters news agency said police used bamboo sticks to beat back protesters in Dhaka.

More than 200 people were arrested, the agency reported.

Awami League supporters have accused the government of being behind what they called an assassination attempt, a charge the government denies.

Scene of chaos

The explosions took place soon after Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina, a former prime minister, addressed about 20,000 people.

Map of Bangladesh showing Dhaka and Chittagong

She was taken away from the scene in a car at which the opposition says bullets were fired.

Chaos followed the attacks, demonstrator Muhammad Alamgir said.

"Everything was smoke. I couldn't see anything.

"People were running. I was so scared I couldn't move. I just sat down and people were running over me," AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Reuters quoted a police inspector, Rafiqul Islam, as saying eight people were being questioned in connection with the Dhaka explosions.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia condemned what she called a "dastardly attack".

The attack is the latest in a series of blasts in Bangladesh this year, including one which killed an Awami League leader in the town of Sylhet on 7 August.

The rally in Dhaka had been called to protest against the attack in Sylhet.

The BBC's Roland Buerk
"There have been protests and sporadic violence"

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