Bangladesh textile workers go on rampage, 100 hurt

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DHAKA, Sep 14 (Reuters) Hundreds of Bangladeshi textile workers armed with sticks and stones attacked buildings near the capital today and clashed with police, incensed by a rumour that a colleague had died inside a factory.

About 100 people were injured in the clashes with police, prompting authorities to close down nearly 100 textile units indefinitely in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Police fired teargas and used batons to drive away the stone- throwing workers, witnesses said.

Police said the violence had stopped but security remained tight to prevent a recurrence of the unrest, which was triggered by a rumour that a factory worker had died.

''It was a false alarm,'' said Brigadier-General Ashraf Abdullah Yussuf, executive chairman of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority.

Garments are Bangladesh's biggest export, which earned nearly 9 billion dollar in the year to June 2007.

The country has more than 4,000 garment factories, employing around 2 million workers, mostly women.

Labour unrest in the textile industry has been growing in recent years with employees complaining of non-payment of wages and overtime charges by factory owners.

Yussuf said the latest violence was fuelled by people from outside the Dhaka export zone, which houses both local and foreign units.

Two factory workers were killed and hundreds injured in similar violence near Dhaka last year.

REUTERS SBC PM1650

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