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Clashes in Dhaka as shares nosedive 9%.

DHAKA: Police fired tear gas and baton-charged thousands of investors in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka yesterday as crowds vented their fury after the stock market tumbled nine per cent in an hour.

Trading on the Dhaka Stock Exchange was halted when stocks fell a record 9.25 per cent soon after opening in a plunge that sent outraged investors onto the streets.

The benchmark Dhaka Stock Exchange general index rose 80 per cent in 2010 but has suffered a series of falls in the past three weeks, in what many analysts described as a much-needed correction.

Police clashed with protesters outside the stock exchange building, where tyres and office furniture were set alight as crowds chanted slogans against the government and market regulators.

Similar protests broke out elsewhere in the country with at least 500 investors rallying in the southwestern port city of Chittagong, local police chief Rafiqual Islam, said.

In Dhaka, riot police reinforcements were called in by the bus-load to break up demonstrations as offices barricaded their gates and windows to avoid being attacked.

"There are up to 5,000 investors holding protests on the streets in front of the exchange building. Some of them have been violent," police inspector Azizul Haq said.

"They have started vandalising government property, which forced us to use batons against them." Television channels showed badly-bleeding protesters trying to escape after police wielding sticks.

"I lost five million taka ($70,000) out of a 10 million taka investment. This is insane - my whole savings are gone," an investor said.

Since December 5, when the DGEN hit a record high of 8,918.51, it has lost 27.4 per cent.

"The exchange has halted trading as per orders from the Securities and Exchange Commission after the benchmark index plunged 660 points, or 9.25 per cent, in the first 54 minutes of trading," spokesman Shafiqual Islam said.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Jan 11, 2011
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