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Four Dead in Bangladesh Clashes

July 13, 2001

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DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of Bangladesh’s president after parliament was dissolved Friday to pave the way for general elections. At least four people were killed.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who leaves office this weekend, made a farewell speech before the closing session of the 330-member legislature, elected in 1996.

It is the first time that a prime minister and the parliament have completed a full five-year term in this South Asian nation, which became independent from Pakistan 30 years ago.

``It is a victory of democracy,″ Hasina told legislators.

Dissolution of parliament is required before new elections can be held. The balloting, in which Hasina is expected to run, is scheduled for October.

Several rallies across the country marking end of the term turned into clashes between Hasina’s supporters and opposition backers, armed with guns and crude homemade bombs. Four deaths were reported in rural towns outside Dhaka, police said. At least 50 other people were injured, they said.

Nearly 5,000 security guards patrolled the rain-swept streets of Dhaka, the national capital, but there were no reports of violence.

Opposition members had boycotted parliament for nearly three years to press for Hasina’s resignation.

Under Bangladesh’s constitution, Hasina leaves office in the hands of former Chief Justice Latifur Rahman, who will head a 10-member caretaker administration to supervise voting to elect a new parliament.

Update hourly