Four people were claimed to be dead with 600 others injured when Bangladesh's anti-government protesters and their ruling party rivals fought pitched battles for hours in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country Sunday morning.
"Our four people were killed and 600 leaders and activists were injured in attacks by police and ruling party men across the country," said Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one of the opposition parties.
Hundreds of other leaders and activities were detained across the country, he added.
The police and the ruling party spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.
During the clashes in many parts of Dhaka, scores of cocktails, many handmade bombs and reportedly a petrol bomb were exploded in some places and dozens of vehicles were torched and vandalized.
Stray incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, chase and counter- chase have also been reported in elsewhere in the country during the eight-hour nationwide road blockade which started at 6:00 a.m. local time.
On account of the blockade, the usually busy streets of the capital looked almost deserted as most means of public and private transportation remained off the roads.
The BNP on Tuesday unveiled large-scale protest plans including road blockade to drum up public support to force the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government to meet its demand, mainly the restoration of a non-party caretaker government system.
In Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters.
Dozens of people including policemen and a senior government official were also injured in clashes in major cities and towns including Dhaka.
Prime Minister Hasina blamed the main opposition party for creating anarchic situation in the country in the name of political activities. She also blasted the opposition for " enforcing countrywide road blockade to save the war criminals".
After returning to power in January 2009, Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh's independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established a tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan, to castigate those committed crimes against humanity during the nine-month war.
Both BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, another major opposition party, have dismissed the court as a government "show trial" and said it is a domestic set-up with no United Nations oversight or involvement.
Jamaat on Dec. 4 observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal demanding mainly for the release of its leaders who face charges of war crime. The BNP has extended moral support to its main ally's hartal which also asked for the restoration of the caretaker government system.
Addressing a grand rally last week, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, chief of the BNP, threatened to enforce a non-stop hartal if Hasina's Awami League (AL) government does not pay heed to her opposition alliance's demand for restoring the caretaker system.
The Bangladesh Parliament in June last year abolished the non- party caretaker government through the 15th constitution amendment, which means Hasina's incumbent AL-led government will stay in power during the next national elections slated for early 2014.
According to the caretaker government system, as the outgoing government hands over power, a caretaker government comes into place and its main objective is to create an environment in which an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government.