Scores more injured as violence rages on last day of Bangladesh opposition-led strike

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Scores of people were injured as violence raged across Bangladesh on Tuesday, the last of a three-day strike called by opposition activists in a bid to pressure the prime minister to resign.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the country’s business body, expressed concern over the latest crisis that has killed at least 15 people since the weekend and urged both the government and opposition to resolve disputes through dialogue.

Homemade bombs exploded in parts of the country Tuesday, injuring a police official in the capital, said Sheikh Maruf Hasan, a Dhaka Metropolitan official.

Scores more have been injured across the country since Sunday, when the decades-old rivalry between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia flared anew with the nationwide strike closing down businesses and roads and government opponents clashing with police and ruling party supporters.

Hasina called Zia on Saturday to appeal to her not to enforce the strike. It was believed to be the first time the two have had a conversation in at least a decade.

Despite the highly unusual appeal from the prime minister, Zia refused to call off the strike, which was due to end Tuesday.

Zia wants to force Hasina’s government to quit and have a caretaker administration oversee an election scheduled to be held by early next year.

The opposition says the government is not capable of holding a credible vote and has threatened to boycott the election unless a caretaker is appointed from outside of political parties.

Hasina has proposed forming a caretaker government from ruling and opposition parties to supervise the vote.

Bangladesh, a parliamentary democracy, has been alternately ruled by Hasina and Zia since 1991. But the issue of peaceful transfers of power has remained a major challenge.