Dhaka: Bangladesh has launched a crackdown on the main opposition, arresting senior leaders after their party called a nationwide strike to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign and call elections under a caretaker government.
Police said three top Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders, including an ex-deputy prime minister, were arrested late Friday and two key aides of main opposition leader Khaleda Zia including a leading businessman were taken into custody early Saturday.
"The five have been accused of inciting violence, exploding bombs and obstructing officers in keeping law and order," Dhaka deputy police commissioner Anisur Rahman told AFP.
BNP senior official Shamsuzzaman Dudu said at least 1,000 of the party's supporters and officials in rural districts had also been arrested in a nationwide crackdown since Friday night.
Police were not immediately available to comment on the arrest in the rural areas.
The clampdown came hours after the BNP and its Islamist allies called a three-day strike -- its third three-day-long shutdown in as many weeks.
The strike, due to start Sunday, is part of a new wave of protests it launched on October 25 to force Hasina to resign and make way for a technocrat-led government to organise January polls.