Bangladesh capital cut off to prevent opposition march

Bangladesh capital cut off to prevent opposition march
Three demonstrators were killed across Bangladesh and more than 100,000 opposition activists rallied in the capital Dhaka to demand that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina quit and order polls under a caretaker government.

DHAKA- Bangladesh's capital was effectively cut off from the rest of the country Monday, with transport services into Dhaka halted in a bid to thwart the second day of a march against next week's elections.

Bus, ferry and train services were suspended for a third day as authorities resumed efforts to stop thousands of people travelling to Dhaka for the opposition march, banned by police fearing violence.

"We restarted Dhaka-bound bus services after Sunday afternoon. But all the buses were turned back by the government authorities as the opposition extended the march to Monday," Faruq Talukdar, owner of the country largest bus service, Sohag Motors, told AFP.

The opposition and its allies called the march in the hope that up to a million people will descend on central Dhaka in a last-ditch attempt to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to quit and call off January 5 elections.

Two people were killed at the start of the march on Sunday during clashes between bomb-throwing opposition supporters and police who responded with shotguns and water cannons.

Police also on Sunday stopped opposition leader Khaleda Zia, a two-time former prime minister, from leaving her home, where she has been under de facto house arrest since Wednesday, to address the rally.

On Monday, police maintained roadblocks around the capital while thousands of officers patrolled the city's streets to stop people gathering at key locations for the march.

Authorities fear the rally could become a focal point for more unrest, after what has already been the deadliest year for political violence in the country's history.

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