Dhaka: Defying a ban on rallies, thousands of people, most of them supporters of Islamic parties, on Friday tried to stage a march in the Bangladesh capital in protest against an anti-Islam film, leading to a clash with riot police who took into custody over 50 demonstrators.
Witnesses said several thousand protesters, mainly from a 12-party Islamic coalition, gathered in front of Baitul Mokarram National Mosque in downtown Dhaka after the weekly Friday prayers and tried to stage a march against the film as well as what they called anti-Islamic internet campaigns.
Police in armoured vehicles tried to disperse the protesters using batons, tear gas and water canons.
The protesters retaliated with stones and brickbats as police chased them throwing dozens of tear gas canisters, a witness said.
Though no casualty was reported by officials, witnesses claimed that several activists under the banner of 12-party Islamic coalition were injured during the clash.
"We requested them (2-party coalition) not to bring out processions but they defied us and tried to stage protests even before the prayers ended," a police spokesman told newsmen, justifying the police action to "protect people`s security".
He, however, did not confirm the number of arrested protesters. But witnesses said more than 50 demonstrators were taken into custody.
The incident came days after 11 Buddhist temples were torched by an angry mob in south-eastern Ramu and adjoining areas over a Facebook posting deemed offensive to Islam.
The government promised rebuilding of the Buddhist temples with state finance.
Police yesterday said they had arrested a 19-year-old youth, the main instigator of the attack on Buddhist temples, while over 200 others had been held earlier.