Several bombs exploded in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka and police clashed with protesters today as opposition leaders enforced a day-long nationwide general strike over alleged police intimidation.
A number of homemade explosive devices were set off during the beginning of the shutdown, with local media reporting blasts in different areas of the city.
Small-scale clashes were reported inside and outside Dhaka, resulting in the deployment of thousands of security officials to maintain order.
Nearly 400 members of the paramilitary Bangladesh Border Guard were also set to aid police.
Schools and most businesses in the capital were closed and traffic was thin on the usually clogged streets.
An 18-party opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP) was enforcing the strike to protest against police intimidation during a rally on Monday.
The party and its allies are demanding restoration of a caretaker government system to oversee coming elections.
Its ally Jamaat-e-Islami also wants a halt to the trials of several opposition politicians accused of crimes stemming from the country's 1971 independence war.
After Monday's rally police arrested several senior leaders and more than 100 BNP activists, headed by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, during a raid on its party headquarters in Dhaka.
Police said they recovered at least 10 homemade bombs from the headquarters but the party accused officers of planting the devices inside the building.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, a former mayor of Dhaka and a former home minister were among those detained.
Ms Zia criticised the government for the arrests and announced a similar nationwide shutdown for March 18 and 19 if the detained senior leaders were not freed immediately.
The authorities released three leaders including Mr Alamgir today afternoon after they had been held for nearly 18 hours.
Mr Alamgir went straight to the party headquarters from police custody and said that they would go ahead with the plan for more shutdowns if all the leaders and activists are not freed by Thursday.
Also today, police filed two cases accusing more than 150 opposition activists of Monday's explosions and alleging that they had obstructed police.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Official inflation figures understate the real extent of rising costs, but even the government's own CPI scheme lays bare the ongoing misery for working people and those dependent on benefits.
The Con-Dems have had it their way too long. We have to turn this country around
How high-quality primary schooling could help solve global poverty