Defying a ban, hundreds of opposition BNP supporters today took to the streets of the Bangladeshi capital and clashed with security forces who tried to foil their attempt to seige government offices to derail the January 5 polls, leaving a student dead.
Police used waters cannons and tear gas canisters on the BNP activists as they tried to stage protest rallies in front of the Supreme Court complex and the National Press Club in central Dhaka, sparking clashes with the supporters of the ruling Awami League.
The paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops joined hands with elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and riot police in cordoning off the BNP's central office in nearby Naya Paltan and the residence of its party chief ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia at upmarket Gulshan area.
Witnesses said opposition activists were seen in front of the office even as the law enforcement agencies did not allow anyone to cross makeshift barbed-wire barricades on streets leading to Naya Paltan, the venue fixed for the rally.
The fresh clashes erupted amid main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party's plan to stage their "march for democracy", defying a government ban on large political gatherings.
A student of a private university succumbed to his wounds as police intercepted a procession of BNP and its crucial ally Jamaat-e-Islami, police and witnesses said.
"The boy was injured as they (activists) hurled bomb on us, forcing us to retaliate with gunshots," a police officer told newsmen, adding that the student was declared dead after he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Police could not confirm if he was an activist.
Brief violence was also reported from Rampura area here where police used rubber bullets to prevent a group of opposition activists from marching towards BNP's central office, leaving two activists critically wounded, according to TV channels.
Witnesses said ruling Awami League activists rather dominated the major city thoroughfares, chanting slogans against BNP and fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami in a tense face-off.
BNP chief Zia stayed confined inside her residence despite her plans to join the marchers at Naya Paltan as police and paramilitary troops threw a seemingly impenetrable ring around her house alongside the central party office.