Riot police in Bangladesh fired tear gas in clashes Sunday with thousands of stone-throwing Islamist activists protesting constitutional changes that proclaimed the country a secular state. At least 70 people were injured, authorities said.

The violence erupted in three towns near Dhaka after police tried to stop the protesters from blocking roads and smashing vehicles that were defying a general strike, police official Nazrul Alam said. He said at least 10 policemen were among the injured.

Alam said the protesters smashed more than a dozen vehicles for refusing to join the strike.

Private television stations ATN News and Boishakhi TV showed protesters, many of them wearing Islamic prayer caps, throwing stones at police. Police responded with batons and tear gas.

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