Clashes as 10,000 join Bangladesh fire protest

Police fire rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds.

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DHAKA // Bangladeshi garment workers clashed with police yesterday as 10,000 people protested against the deaths of more than 100 people in the country's worst clothing-factory fire, with demonstrations entering a second week.

A false rumour about another fire in a plant sparked the latest protests as workers gathered in the streets of Ashulia, a manufacturing hub of 500 plants outside the capital, said Moktar Ali, the industrial police deputy director.

"There were around 10,000 workers. They barricaded a road at Ashulia and attacked some vehicles and factories," Mr Ali said.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters, who fought back by hurling stones, he said. About 50 factories had shut, fearing further attacks and vandalism.

The fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory on November 24 in Ashulia led to the deaths of 112 workers, most of whom were paid as little as Dh140 a month and were either unable to escape the blaze or died when forced to jump from elevated windows.

The factory was supplying clothes to a variety of international groups including the US giant Wal-Mart, Dutch retailer C&A, Hong Kong supplier Li & Fung as well as to the brand owned by US rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Activists and industry workers have staged demonstrations at Ashulia and in Dhaka almost every day since the tragedy.