Hundreds detained ahead of Oppn march in Bangladesh

BangladeshPolice detain a man suspected of being an activist of the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Dhaka Saturday. reuters

Bagladeshi authorities detained over 700 opposition activists trying to gather in the capital in defiance of a ban on a protest march called Sunday by the BNP to derail the January 5 polls.

The country was Saturday under virtual siege as transport services shut down overnight following a government advisory and people braced for fresh political violence. Army and paramilitary personnel patrolled city streets amidst the tense face-off between the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance and the Awami League.

Police raided homes of opposition supporters and trains and took into custody more than 700 activists, police officials told the media.

Reports said activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami began moving towards Dhaka Friday evening, well ahead of the march in order to avoid interception by police.

BNP leader Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused the Awami League-led government of creating a blockade to prevent opposition activists gathering in Dhaka. "It seems like Section 144 has been imposed countrywide, an undeclared shutdown by the government itself," he said.

Officials were intimidating people in hotels and restaurants and tracking down protesters from outside Dhaka, Alamgir claimed.

Bus and ferry operators said they have stopped services to and from Dhaka due to "security concerns" after a government advisory.

Hundreds of Bangladeshis returning from India were stranded at the western land port of Benapole, with no buses to carry them home.

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