DHAKA, Bangladesh — Opposition activists clashed with police and ruling party members on Sunday, the first day of a four-day general strike amid concerns by businesses that the country will suffer terribly if the ongoing chaos does not immediately stop.
At least one man died and scores were injured across the country as the opposition enforced the strike to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to quit and form a caretaker government made up of people from outside of mainstream political parties to oversee an election next year.
The latest spate of violence came after at least 18 people died during similar protests over the last two weeks as the opposition enforced shutdowns totaling 120 hours.
Television stations said a man died Sunday in the southeastern district of Chittagong after picketers attacked a rickshaw he was traveling in.
The latest developments come amid 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 situation became further complicated when authorities arrested five prominent leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Friday and Saturday.
After the arrests of Moudud Ahmed, M.K. Anwar, Rafiqul Islam Mia, Abdul Awal Mintoo, and an aide to opposition leader Khaleda Zia, the opposition increased an already announced 72-hour strike by 12 hours. All of those arrested were sent to jail by a court on Saturday. They will have to stay there at least until Thursday, when the court will hear police charges against them.
Police said they were arrested in two separate cases involving charges of arson, smashing of vehicles, and attacking police. The opposition said the charges are politically motivated.
Dhaka’s Prothom Alo newspaper reported about 200 vehicles have either been torched or vandalized across the country in response to the arrests.
Hasina and Zia, a former prime minister, have alternated as prime minister since 1991.