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Asia-Pacific

BNP-called general strike closes Bangladesh for second day

media Police try to arrest BNP chief whip and MP Jainul Abdin Faruk Reuters/Andrew Biraj

Bangladesh was shut down by an anti-government general strike for a second day running on Thursday. Protests on Wednesday left dozens injured and at least 27 jailed.

Almost all shops and businesses were closed, roads were empty and transport between the capital and other cities was cut. Cargo deliveries were also suspended at the main port in Chittagong.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies have enforced the 48-hour strike since Wednesday morning to protest against changes to the electoral system that they say unfairly favour the incumbent government.

On Wednesday, dozens of people were injured, including BNP chief whip Joynal Abedin Faruk, who and was admitted to the intensive care unit of a Dhaka hospital with serious head injuries, according to medical staff.

Television footage showed a heavily bleeding Faruk being chased by baton-wielding riot police.

BNP MPs staged a sit-in part of the parliament building on Thursday to demand the arrest and "exemplary punishment" of those responsible, the Dhaka Daily Star reports.

Fazlul Haq of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police said at least 27 people were jailed. Two were given one-year terms by magistrates handing out on-the-spot justice.

The Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina has scrapped a 1996 change to the constitution, which provided for the appointment of a neutral caretaker administrations to oversee elections.

The BNP has organised a series of protests and party leader Khaleda Zia has said her party will not contest future polls unless the caretaker system is reintroduced.

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