Dozens injured after police clash with anti-government protesters in Bangladeshi capital

Riot police in the Bangladeshi capital used tear gas and batons Saturday to stop a protest march by about 3,000 opposition activists, injuring at least 30 people, witnesses said.

The clashes erupted outside the headquarters of the main opposition Awami League party as its members tried to drum up support for a general strike Sunday against an alleged government plan to create new voter lists favorable to the ruling coalition, reporters at the scene said.

Police fired tear gas shells and swung batons, and the protesters responded by throwing stones and smashing several passing vehicles, the witnesses said.

At least 30 people, including two police officers, were injured, said the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals.

Sunday's dawn-to-dusk nationwide shutdown has been planned by the Awami League and its 13 smaller allies to press for the resignation of three election officials they accuse of trying to create new voter lists that would favor the ruling coalition in next year's general elections.

The opposition has accused the government of influencing the five-member commission, but the government denies it.

Rallies and general strikes are common opposition tactics in Bangladesh. Most people stay home and businesses close during the strikes due to fears of violence. Sunday is a working day in this Muslim-majority country.

The voting list controversy started last month when Chief Election Commissioner M.A. Aziz ordered the preparation of a new list despite objections from the opposition, which just wanted the old voters' list updated, AP reported. V.A.

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