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Opposition strike takes hold in Bangladesh

Written by: Staff
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DHAKA, July 4 (Reuters) An opposition-led general strike took hold in Bangladesh's capital today, although turnout was relatively poor, witnesses said.

Schools were closed but most offices and banks were open. Streets were crammed with rickshaws and mini-cabs.

A 14-party alliance led by Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, a former prime minister, called the latest countrywide strike as part of their campaign to force the government to implement electoral reforms before parliamentary polls due in January.

Opposition activists gathered at a few city points, including Bangabandhu Avenue where Awami's main office is located, witnesses said.

They pushed through police barricades and marched through nearby streets, but there were no reports of violence.

Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, secretary-general of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, accused the opposition of trying to cause anarchy through a long series of strikes and vowed not to give in.

Yesterday night, opposition activists burned a bus and damaged traffic signals at the capital's Mahakhali area, while police picked up dozens of suspected activists on Monday night.

''We have no other language instead of strike to express our protest against this repressive government,'' Abdul Jalil, Awami General Secretary, told reporters late yesterday.

REUTERS CH KN1050

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