DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Protesters exploded homemade bombs, torched cars and called on the Bangladeshi government to quit Monday in the latest turn in a political crisis that has polarized the country ahead of January elections. At least one person was reported killed.
Security was heightened across the capital, Dhaka, with extra police and paramilitary guards patrolling the streets. The opposition began a three-day strike to force the government to step down.
A similar strike last week turned violent, with at least 16 people killed in clashes as opposition members tried to enforce the strike.
According to a report in the Bengali-language Prothom Alo daily, one person was killed in the north Monday when police opened fire to break up clashes between ruling party and opposition supporters in Lalmonirhat, 255 kilometers (160 miles) north of Dhaka.
Police in the area could not be immediately reached for comment.
The violence comes at a time of deep tension in Bangladesh, a nation struggling to overcome extreme poverty, rancorous politics and a string of horrific accidents linked to the garment industry.
The election, expected in January, has become a flashpoint in the decades-old rivalry between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia.
The opposition says Hasina's government is not capable of holding a credible election, and it wants a neutral caretaker administration from outside the political parties to oversee the vote.
Hasina has agreed to form a caretaker government, but only with members of the ruling and opposition parties.
Besides the election-related violence, a war crimes tribunal stemming from Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan has become another incendiary political issue.
Hasina formed the tribunal in 2010. But most of those facing trial are members of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic party allied to the opposition. Zia says the trial is politically motivated to weaken the opposition.
On Sunday, the tribunal sentenced two Bangladeshis to death in absentia for crimes against humanity during the war. Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers and local collaborators killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the 1971 war.
Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, who lives in Britain, and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who lives in New York, were found guilty of abducting and murdering 18 people in December 1971. The two were among top leaders of the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.