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Gunmen Fire on Bangladesh Marchers

August 18, 1999

NARAYANGANJ, Bangladesh (AP) _ Gunmen opened fire Wednesday on hundreds of anti-government protesters in Bangladesh, killing at least one and wounding 50 others, police said.

The country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party blamed the attack in Narayanganj, an industrial town 10 miles southeast of the capital of Dhaka, on the governing Awami League. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling party denied the allegations.

The shooting began as 300 members of the opposition party were about to start a march to demand Hasina’s administration step down. The gunmen fired into the crowd and tossed crude homemade bombs before fleeing, a local police official said on customary condition of anonymity.

Abdul Hamid, who owns a grocery shop near the scene, said at least six gunmen climb out of a white minivan.

``Next I heard sounds of shooting,″ he said.

The protests were part of a nationwide opposition campaign to force Hasina to resign and announce early general elections. Opposition parties accuse the government of corruption, abuse of power and harassment of political opponents.

In Dhaka, about 1,000 anti-government demonstrators held a protest that was broken up when police fired tear gas shells at the crowd. At least 16 people were injured, witnesses said.

Similar protests were scheduled for at least 60 other major towns across the country.

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