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Bangladesh opposition extends "March for Democracy" till Monday

DHAKA, Dec. 29 — Bangladesh's main opposition party chief has extended by another day her alliance's "March for Democracy" which triggered widespread violence in parts of capital Dhaka on Sunday, leaving two dead and dozens injured.

Being barred by law enforcers from attending a march after rally, ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, also chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), talked to media for a short while and said, "Our march program will continue on Monday."

Khaleda Zia got in her car to attend the march after rally in front of her party's headquarters in Dhaka's downtown Naya Paltan area but was obstructed from leaving her house where she remained virtually confined since the announcement of the protest program.

Khaleda Zia Tuesday night through a press conference urged people from all strata of life to join the march toward Dhaka on Dec. 29 to put pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government to scrap the parliamentary elections slated for Jan. 5.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police has not given permission to the main opposition party for staging the march after rally Sunday afternoon.

Police put up barricades on both sides of the road leading to Khaleda's house since Saturday evening. On Sunday morning security was further beefed up in and around her house in Dhaka's diplomatic enclave Gulshan.

The incumbent government is "illegal" and "undemocratic," Khaleda Zia told the media. "This government is plotting to stay in power."

After talking to media she was sitting in a chair in the premises of her house for sometime while holding a mini hand waving national flag.

She later returned to the home as law enforcers closed the main gate of the house.

Khaleda Zia's BNP and its 17 allies including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party have asked Hasina to bring back a non-party caretaker system, or else the opposition won't participate in the next election because it fears an election without the non-party caretaker government will not be free and fair.

Some 21 opposition parties including BNP are boycotting the elections over Hasina's refusal for non-party interim government to oversee the elections.

Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League party has vowed to resist the march program and asked its activists to guard all entry points to Dhaka.

Transporters said they were asked by the ruling party to halt operations for two days to thwart the long march.

Dhaka remained virtually cut off from the rest of Bangladesh since Saturday morning and wore almost a deserted look on Sunday.

One Jamaat activist was killed and dozens were injured as Bangladesh opposition men clashed with ruling party activists and law enforcers in Dhaka on Sunday.

A Bangladesh railway security personnel was killed and two others injured in a bomb blast during a search in a railway station in Dhaka.

Stray incidents of clashes, explosions of dozens of cocktails, torching and vandalism of vehicles were also reported elsewhere in the country. (PNA/Xinhua)

CTB/RSM

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