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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 13:06 GMT
Fifty hurt in Bangladesh clashes
Bangladeshi protesters carry a caricature of Bangladesh's Chief Election Commissioner during a protest march in Dhaka
The protesters are demanding electoral reforms
At least 50 people have been injured in clashes in northern Bangladesh as a major political alliance resumed a nationwide transport blockade.

Police said the clashes took place in the town of Natore.

The fighting was between supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League. Witnesses said both groups used firearms.

The Awami League want the chief commissioner overseeing elections due in January to be replaced.

Tear gas

Police officer Liakat Ali said the local party chief of the BNP was among those hurt by bullets during clashes with the opposition Awami League in Natore.

Young protesters in Dhaka light fires in support of a nationwide blockade, 12 Nov
Thousands of protesters have recently taken to the streets

"Supporters of both parties clashed with guns and bombs at the heart of the town as both wanted to hold rallies there," he told the AFP news agency.

Police say that they used tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd.

Meanwhile thousands of supporters of both the BNP and the Awami League held peaceful rallies in the capital, Dhaka.

Witnesses say opposition supporters are squatting on roads linking Dhaka with the country's main port, Chittagong, and other major towns.

A four-day blockade last week caused widespread disruption.

The interim government which is overseeing the election has issued a statement warning of serious consequences if the transport blockade continued.

Optimistic

The action was "anti-constitutional and illegal" and in cutting off the supply of food and medical supplies risked creating a humanitarian disaster, it said.

Map showing Bangladesh

But the BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says that advisers to the caretaker government are optimistic that a solution to the crisis will be found in the next couple of days.

The Chief Election Commissioner, MA Aziz, met three advisers to discuss the issue on Monday.

Mr Aziz made no comments following the talks.

More than 20 people were killed in clashes between rival political camps when the BNP's period of government expired in October.

The country's figurehead president, Iajuddin Ahmed, assumed control of the government after the political parties failed to agree on who should lead the caretaker administration to oversee the vote.




SEE ALSO
Bangladesh poll chief to stay on
06 Nov 06 |  South Asia
B'desh opposition renews deadline
03 Nov 06 |  South Asia
Bangladesh rivals in key meeting
05 Oct 06 |  South Asia
Bangladesh approaches zero hour
05 Oct 06 |  South Asia
Timeline: Bangladesh
06 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
28 Dec 05 |  Country profiles

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