Watch CBSN Live

Police Arrest Opposition Protesters In Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - Authorities raided the headquarters of the opposition party in the Bangladeshi capital Monday as they tried to end the group's strike to protest spiraling commodity prices and crime. In other parts of the country, police fired tear gas and arrested protesters.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, also accuses the government of failing to properly regulate the country's capital market - which recently plummeted, fueling violence on the streets - and says the government oppresses opposition activists.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Zia's archrival, denies the allegations and says the main opposition party is trying to destabilize the country.

On Monday, schools and businesses were shut in cities and towns across Bangladesh in a dawn-to-dusk strike. Demonstrators took to the streets in several areas in support of the action.

In the northwestern city of Rajshahi, opposition supporters threw stones at police, and officers responded with tear gas.

The Daily Star newspaper reported police arrested at least 24 people at the protest in Rajshahi, 145 miles (235 kilometers) northwest of Dhaka. The report said at least 43 opposition supporters were arrested across the country by Monday afternoon.

The streets of the capital, Dhaka, were nearly empty, with only a few buses and three-wheel rickshaws running on usually clogged byways.

Earlier in the day, police had installed barbed wire fencing around the headquarters of Zia's party in downtown Dhaka to prevent her supporters from entering.

But they managed to get onto the premises anyway, and police armed with batons later raided the building, according to Abdus Salam, an opposition leader. He said 40 activists were injured in the clash.

A police officer said they raided after protesters hurled bricks at them from inside the building. The officer spoke on condition anonymity as he was not permitted to make public comments.

The strike comes a day after at least 10 buses were set on fire Sunday. No one was hurt in those attacks. A homemade bomb exploded on the campus of a Dhaka university the same day, injuring two people.

Dhaka police said the opposition was responsible for Sunday's violence.

The opposition initially called the strike to protest plans for a new airport outside Dhaka that villagers fear would take away their farmland and destroy a wetland.

On Jan. 31, villagers clashed with security officials outside the capital over the plan, and a police officer was killed. Two days later, the government announced that it would seek another location for a new airport.

But the opposition said it would go ahead with the strike anyway accusing the government of persecuting political rivals and failing to manage the economy and crime.

View CBS News In