At about 11 am hundreds of lawyers loyal to former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami marched to the main gate of the Apex Court, a news agency reported.

As the procession neared the gate, women activists of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) began throwing brickbats at the marchers. The pro-BNP lawyers retaliated with brickbats and stones. This led to clashes which continued for nearly half-an-hour. The lawyers retreated after hundreds of ruling party men joined the women activists of the AL.

Zia last week urged people from all walks of life to join the march Sunday towards Dhaka to put pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government to scrap the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 5. She announced that the opposition's march to Dhaka will continue on Monday.

The opposition's "March for Democracy" triggered widespread violence in parts of the capital. Hasina's ruling party vowed to resist the anti-government march and asked its activists to guard all entry points to Dhaka.

The opposition alliance has threatened to boycott the general elections unless Hasina brings back a non-party caretaker system to ensure free and fair elections.


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