Bangladesh: Capital Cut Off, Country Paralyzed
Thousands of protesters demand chief election commissioner's resignation
Email Article  Print Article Golam Mustofa Sarowar (Golam)    
Bangladesh remains paralyzed and the capital Dhaka cut off from the rest of the country as the 14-party alliance enforced a transportation blockade from Sunday.

The protesters are seeking to force the caretaker government to hold "fair" January elections and demanding the Election Commission remove Chief Election Commissioner Justice MA Aziz and the three other election commissioners.

Thousands of political activists Sunday crowded into the streets of Dhaka in support of the nationwide blockade, which continued for a second day Monday, hampering daily life and business activities.

As part of the blockade, highways, waterways and railways were disrupted, halting operations of Chittagong and Mongla seaports and Benapole and Sonamasjid land ports and hampering business in all sectors of the country.

At several locations buses were torched, trains set ablaze and various establishments ransacked. The government has decided to deploy army to bring the situation under control.

Most shops, businesses and schools remain closed and all but some Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation buses and compressed natural gas-run three wheelers were off the streets. Rickshaws were, however, seen operating as usual.

Around 25,000 helmeted police, paramilitaries and elite rapid action battalion troops, wearing bulletproof vests, were posted at trouble spots. But, this time around, they did not swing into action in order to avert any escalation of violence.

Officials said export-import trade through Chittagong and Mongla seaports and Benapole and Sona Masjid landports halted following the siege, as picketers put up roadblocks on byways and highways linking the country's gateways. They said railway service across the country was also obstructed.

Eleven buses were allegedly damaged by the opposition activists -- mostly garment workers -- in the Savar, a site 24 kilometers to the northwest of Dhaka, Monday morning.

Picketers set fire to a coach of a Dinajpur-bound Ekota Express train at Tongi and torched a bus outside Jahangirnagar University campus in the early hours of Sunday.

2006/11/13 오후 1:25
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