DHAKA, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Six protesters were claimed to be dead while 500 others were injured when Bangladesh's anti- government protesters and their ruling party rivals fought pitched battles for hours across the South Asian country Friday.
"Our six people were killed in attacks by police and ruling party men in three Bangladesh districts including Chandpur, Cox's Bazaar and Nilphamari," said Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior spokesman of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Hundreds of other leaders and activities were detained across the country, he said, adding, "500 leaders and activists were injured."
The police and the ruling party spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.
Handmade bombs were exploded in some places and dozens of vehicles were torched and vandalized in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.
Incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, chase and counter-chase have been reported in many Bangladesh districts since Friday morning.
Police reportedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters.
Scores of people including policemen and ruling party men were also injured in clashes in major cities and towns.
Ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's BNP-led 18-party had earlier said that Oct. 25 is the last day of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina' s government and asked its leaders and activists to take to the streets on the very day to press home its demand for the restoration of the non-party caretaker government system.
The usually busy streets of the capital looked almost deserted as panic has gripped the people in the city. Thousands of anti- riot police and ruling party men were in the streets of the national capital.
Hasina's Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party has blamed the main opposition party for creating anarchic situation in the country in the name of political activities and urged the opposition leader to withdraw the three-day hartal call and sit for dialogue to form an all-party polls-time government.
AL presidium member Mohammad Nasim made the call minutes after Khaleda announced the 60-hour hartal from 6:00 a.m. Sunday, asking the government to initiate a dialogue over her polls-time government formula.
Khaleda on Friday called a three-day nationwide dawn-to-dusk non-stop shutdown from 6 a.m. (local time) on Oct. 27 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 29.
She announced the strike at a grand rally in capital Dhaka, slapping a two-day ultimatum of Hasina's government for initiating dialogue on a neutral election-time government.
Braving drizzle that continued since the morning, tens of thousands of Bangladesh opposition supporters flooded lush-green Suhrawardy Udyan (garden).
The leaders and activists of the BNP and its 17 allies including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami since the morning marched toward the rally venue with banners, placards and "sheaf of paddy" election symbol of the BNP, breaking through several obstacles on their way.
The BNP-led 18-party opposition held the rally to drum up public support and show its strength.
In an apparent move to de-escalate tension between the ruling and opposition parties, Prime Minister Hasina on Oct. 18 proposed an all-party government be set up to hold general elections in the country.
But the BNP has rejected Hasina's all-party interim government proposal and tabled a new formula for the administration.
Since June 2011 when Bangladesh Parliament abolished the non- party caretaker government system after an apex court verdict declared the 15-year-old constitutional provision illegal, the BNP- led alliance has been waging mass protests demanding for the reinstatement of the provision.
The scrapped provision mandated an elected government to transfer power to an unelected non-partisan caretaker administration to oversee a new parliamentary election on the completion of its term.
Khaleda has asked Hasina's AL to bring back the caretaker system, or else it won't participate in the next polls because it fears an election without the caretaker government will not be free and fair.
The parliament is due to expire on Jan. 24 next year and elections should be held within 90 days before its expiry.
Khaleda said Friday "Your will be responsible for all the consequences what happen next if you don't start dialogue to reach consensus about the polls-time government. Your (Hasina's) government will be illegal from Oct. 27."
But Nasim claimed that Hasina's ruling government would remain in office till Jan. 24 as per the constitution.