20 hurt as police clash with Bangladesh workers

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers on Sunday during a second day of riots triggered by false reports that a man had been murdered by his employers.

Police said at least 20 people were injured in the clashes at the Ashulia factory zone outside the capital Dhaka after rumours spread that the worker, who had argued with factory managers, had disappeared and was feared dead.

“At least 3,000 workers attacked police with stones and bricks, forcing us to fire rubber bullets and tear gas,” deputy chief of Dhaka police Rafiqul Islam said.

“They ransacked several factories, breaking glass, damaging machines and torching vehicles.”

The violence forced the shutdown of around 100 factories in Ashulia, where about half a million workers make clothes for leading American and European retailers.

In an attempt to calm the unrest, police announced that the worker who rioters believed had been killed was alive.

Five weeks ago, trade union leader Aminul Islam was abducted from Ashulia and found murdered 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Dhaka.

Islam was one of the organisers of 2006 and 2010 demonstrations pushing for wage hikes that swept Bangladesh’s textile industry for months, forcing the country’s 5,000 factories to raise salaries.

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