Anti-Regime Rally Broken Up in Dhaka

Associated Press

Police broke up an anti-government procession Saturday during a one-day general strike called by opposition parties. At least 20 bomb blasts were reported.

A British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent, Phil Jones, was expelled, one day after the government ordered all BBC operations shut down.

Opposition leader Khaleda Zia told a news conference that the groups behind the monthlong campaign to oust President Hussain Muhammad Ershad were close to selecting a person to replace him in an interim government they demand.

Ershad, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1982, has said repeatedly he will not quit. He imposed emergency rule on Nov. 27 to try to halt the anti-government agitation, and public rallies remain banned.

Police broke up a gathering of demonstrators outside a downtown mosque to prevent them from holding a procession in violation of the emergency rules.

Witnesses and police said six people were injured in 20 small bomb explosions around the city, none seriously.

Most shops were closed during the 12-hour strike, and traffic was reduced to a few bicycle rickshaws and state-owned buses. Banks were open, but they had little business.

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