Dhaka: Bangladesh's main opposition BNP called for a nationwide shutdown on Thursday after police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to break up anti-government protests, injuring scores.

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas shells at a BNP demonstration after being attacked by activists of Jamaat-e-Islami at Nayapaltan.

Senior BNP leaders including its joint secretary general Amanullah Aman and standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan also received rubber bullets as police tried to disperse them from a demonstration venue.

Leaders and activists of the main opposition gathered in front of the party's headquarters at Nayapaltan for a previously announced demonstration. While the programme was going on, several hundred activists of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a crucial ally of BNP, suddenly came out of lanes near the BNP office and launched an attack of policemen.

All of a sudden, they hurled cocktails at the policemen, who were posted near the rally venue. Police responded by firing rubber bullets and teargas shells at the attackers. At least 100 people were injured in the police action. "They ran towards the BNP rally as chased by police creating a chaotic situation that spoiled the rally," a photojournalist who witnessed the violence told reporters.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party called another day-long general strike on Thursday in response to police action. "We are calling a nationwide dawn to dusk hartal protesting the police excesses," BNP's acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a unscheduled briefing inside the party central office after the clashes.


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