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Bangladesh Strike Death Toll Rises

November 11, 1998

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Police detained 250 demonstrators as an anti-government protest shut down businesses across the country for a third day Wednesday.

Seven opposition parties called the strike to protest what they alleged was an attempt to kill their leader, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, at a rally in the capital of Dhaka on Saturday.

The death toll from the three-day strike, meanwhile, rose to four. A 17-year-old boy died Wednesday in a Dhaka hospital from bullet wounds he suffered during clashes with strike opponents two days earlier, doctors said.

Nearly 500 people have been injured in clashes between supporters and opponents of the protest in Dhaka, the southern city of Chittagong and the northern town of Mymensingh.

More rickshaw drivers _ who earn an average of $2 a day _ were back on the streets Wednesday, defying the protest and risking attacks by anti-government demonstrators. But businesses, banks and stores remained closed, raising concern of further damage to the country’s already crippled economy.

The government estimates the strike is costing some $68 million a day in lost exports and production.

The strike call was made a day after a court convicted 15 former army officers in the assassination of the country’s first prime minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a 1975 coup. The 15 were sentenced to death.

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