|Police confront striking garment workers in Narayanganj on September 26, 2013|
Bangladesh police Saturday banned all rallies in the capital Dhaka, fearing violence after the opposition called for "armed" protests to force elections under a caretaker government.
The ban comes after an official from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) urged supporters to stage non-stop protests starting October 25 armed with machetes and knives.
All rallies, demonstrations and mass gatherings have been banned as a result of the opposition's protest call, which could "lead to (the) deterioration of law and order and security" in the capital, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) chief Benazir Ahmed.
Police have imposed the ban indefinitely, DMP deputy chief Monirul Islam told reporters.
The BNP and its Islamists allies have set the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina an October 24 deadline to agree to their demand to hold upcoming parliamentary elections under a neutral caretaker government.
Hasina on Friday proposed an all-party interim government in an effort to break the deadlock over the polls.
The BNP has yet to respond to the proposal but the party has long threatened to boycott any elections held under a government or interim administration led by Hasina.
On Saturday the BNP blasted the police ban on protests.
"This is a clear trampling of all sorts of democratic norms," the party's chief parliamentary whip Zainul Abdin Farroque told The Daily Star.
The United States and the United Nations have urged Hasina and BNP leader Khaleda Zia -- known as the 'battling begums' in Bangladesh for their bitter decades-long rivalry -- to hold a dialogue and break the impasse over the elections.
Violence ahead of a cancelled election in 2007 killed dozens and led the country's powerful military to step in and form an army-backed caretaker government.