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Bangladeshi Police In Deadly Clash With Islamist Protesters


Bangladeshi police baton-charge demonstrators during the clashes in Dhaka on May 5.
There have been deadly clashes between police and hard-line Islamist protesters in Bangladesh.

Security forces broke up a demonstration by tens of thousands of protesters in the center of the Bangladeshi capital on May 6, firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Media reports say at least eight people, including two policemen and a paramilitary soldier, were killed in Dhaka. Another seven reportedly died in Kanchpur on the capital's outskirts. Dozens are reported injured.

Authorities have responded with a ban on public demonstrations or rallies, according to Al-Jazeera, although the ruling party and Islamists both had called for rallies later on May 6.

The Islamists are calling for a stricter blasphemy law, including the death penalty, plus more emphasis on Islamic education among other demands. They have particularly targeted bloggers and others who have insisted on preserving Bangladesh's secular society.

The turmoil comes as the government struggles to deal with public outrage over the collapse of a clothing factory building in Savar, northwest of Dhaka, nearly two weeks ago.

As the search through the rubble continues, the death toll has risen to at least 622.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, BBC, Al-Jazeera, and AFP