Most districts in the country were cut off from Dhaka as pro-Awami League transport associations stopped buses, apparently to foil Sunday's "Dhaka march" called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led opposition alliance, a website reported.

It said that a number of transporters have stopped operating buses after law enforcers ‘advised’ them to remain grounded.

Transport associations in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions have called a two-day strike beginning on Saturday to protest against the recent vandalism and arson attacks on buses by the opposition supporters.

"Buses are leaving Dhaka but they are not returning to the capital as the drivers and helpers fear for their security," Osman Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation, was quoted as saying.

Earlier, the government virtually halted traffic movement to and from the capital in efforts to thwart BNP's March 12 Dhaka rally.

A large contingent of police personnel were seen on Friday in and around BNP chief Khaleda Zia's residence and office, a website reported.

"She has been under virtual house arrest since the announcement of the long march programme schedule," BNP vice president Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury was quoted as saying.

Through a video message Khaleda Zia on Friday evening urged her supporters to march towards Dhaka. "I urge all to converge in the capital city on December 29 to save democracy though I can't join it,” she said.

The former prime minister's directive came hours after the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) turned down the opposition request for permission for the rally at Nayapaltan in the capital.

"The opposition was denied permission on security grounds," Masudur Rahman, DMP's deputy commissioner-media, was quoted as saying by a news daily.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party has vowed to resist the programme and asked its leaders and activists to remain alert to prevent any attempt to create anarchy in the city.

Khaleda's 18-party opposition alliance seeks cancellation of the parliamentary polls slated for January 5 over Hasina's refusal for non-party interim government to oversee the elections.

The opposition alliance enforced prolonged blockades after the Election Commission on November 25 announced the schedule for the poll. Scores of people have been killed in wide spread violence since November 26.


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