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Public holiday declared in Bangladesh to cool curfew tensions

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  • medhadps
    [Excerpt: This morning, however, AFP reporters said many pedesetrians were on the streets as were bicycle rickshaws — the main form of transport in Dhaka,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 22, 2007
      [Excerpt: This morning, however, AFP reporters said many
      pedesetrians were on the streets as were bicycle rickshaws — the
      main form of transport in Dhaka, home to more than 12 million
      people. Other vehicles kept off the roads and businesses remained
      closed as security forces patrolled. Seven journalists were arrested
      during the curfew, the private CSB news channel reported. United
      News of Bangladesh (UNB) said at least two journalists were beaten
      up despite showing press cards ]

      Public holiday declared in Bangladesh to cool curfew tensions
      Helen Rowe, AFP

      Bangladesh's military-backed government declared a public holiday
      today to try to ease tension after three days of campus violence led
      security forces to impose an indefinite curfew.

      The curfew was clamped before nightfall on the six main cities
      including the capital after one man died and scores were hurt in
      clashes which spread from Dhaka University to other cities.

      Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January when an
      interim government took power following months of violence and
      political turmoil over vote-rigging allegations.

      The emergency government leader Fakhruddin Ahmed announced yesterday
      evening that the curfew would be in force until further notice to
      halt what he called "anarchy". In a televised address Ahmed
      accused "a few evil forces of taking advantage of a trifling
      incident," which police said started Monday night after soldiers
      manhandled several students at a soccer match.

      "The government has taken measures, including the imposition of
      curfew, to protect public life and property as well as stop illegal
      activities," Ahmed said.

      But he added that the measure was "certainly temporary."

      Offices and shops shut early in Dhaka as people rushed home, leaving
      streets deserted.

      This morning, however, AFP reporters said many pedesetrians were on
      the streets as were bicycle rickshaws — the main form of transport
      in Dhaka, home to more than 12 million people.

      Other vehicles kept off the roads and businesses remained closed as
      security forces patrolled.

      Seven journalists were arrested during the curfew, the private CSB
      news channel reported. United News of Bangladesh (UNB) said at least
      two journalists were beaten up despite showing press cards.

      Mobile phones stopped working and UNB said the government had told
      operators to shut down their networks.

      The six cities affected were the capital Dhaka, northern Rajshahi
      and Sylhet, and southern Chittagong, Barisal and Khulna. All
      colleges and universities in the six cities would also be closed.

      Television channels yesterday showed protesters armed with sticks
      and stones rampaging through parts of Dhaka and Chittagong in
      defiance of a government ban on demonstrations.

      The government appealed for calm, accusing troublemakers without any
      genuine grievances of hijacking the protests, which began with
      demands by Dhaka University students for the army to withdraw from
      their campus.

      The army post at the university was shut down early Wednesday but
      the decision failed to quell the sporadic clashes.

      The government has enjoyed broad popular support after nearly two
      decades of misrule by corrupt politicians, although there has
      recently been rumbling discontent among the very poor about the
      rising prices of essentials.

      Today's Bangladesh Observer urged the government to take due note of
      the protests.

      "Recent developments... should be a wake up call and make them (the
      government) more sensitive to the needs of the people," the daily
      said in an editorial.

      The Daily Star offered some sympathy.

      "What started off a spontaneous protest by students has regrettably
      been taken over by politically-motivated elements," the leading
      daily said.

      "The government for its part could no longer remain a passive
      bystander to the turmoil. It has to find a way out as persistent
      violence will only mean suffering of the common people."

      The government has since January curtailed party political
      activities and pledged to implement far-reaching reforms to clean up
      Bangladesh's notoriously corrupt politics before holding fresh polls
      by late 2008. - AFP

      http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Thursday/NewsBreak/20070823133
      537/Article/index_html
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