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Seventy hurt in Bangladesh clash over electricity

By Staff
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DHAKA, Apr 30 (Reuters) At least 70 people were injured in clashes between rival Bangladeshi groups today during a nationwide protest against electricity shortages, police and witnesses said.

Police fired tear gas shells and used batons on opposition activists, witnesses said.

The violence erupted in northwestern Sirajganj town, 150 km from the capital Dhaka, when opposition activists were marching towards an electricity supply office.

The march was part of countrywide protest called by a 14-party opposition alliance led by the Awami League of former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Leaders of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League blamed each other for the clash, which started when opposition activists pushed through a police barricade.

The opposition called the protest to highlight growing electricity shortages across the country that have triggered often violent demonstrations in past months.

At least 20 people have been killed since January in clashes with police in northwestern Kanshat. Farmers in the town have been demanding adequate power supplies to run their irrigation pumps.

Six died in the latest clash with police in Kanshat on April 13.

Total nationwide power generation was 3,000 megawatts against demand of 4,500 megawatts yesterday, an official of the state-owned Power Development Board said.

Out of Bangladesh's nearly 60 power generation plants, 25 were out of operation yesterday due to mechanical faults, officials said.

Reuters SI DB1339

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