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Hundreds of Bangladesh opposition supporters jailed, BNP calls new protests

media Police try to arrest a BNP activist in Dhaka on Sunday Reuters/Palash Khan

Opposition parties in Bangladesh have called two more days of anti-government agitation, after special courts jailed hundreds of their supporters during a 36-hour general strike.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) claimed that as many as 700 of its supporters have been imprisoned by so-called “mobile courts” – teams of magistrates and police who hand down on-the-spot convictions.

Police on Monday confirmed 127 sentences of up to one year in the capital, Dhaka, and the port city of Chittagong.

Among those detained were former home minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury and former water resources minister Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, as well as a former air force chief.

Khaleda Zia’s BNP on Monday declared that it would organise a rally in Dhaka on Wednesday and across the country on Thursday to protest at the arrests, local media report.

The hartal – a workers’ strike and business closure - was backed by the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami and ended Monday evening.

Vehicles were set on fire in Dhaka and Chittagong and police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a protest in the northern town of Sirajganj, wounding about a dozen people.

The strike is to protest at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s declaration that she would end a system in which a caretaker government appointed three months ahead of an election.

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