Stock market plunge sparks Bangladesh protests

Stock market closed after angry investors take to the streets.

Andrew Biraj/Reuters
Investors chant slogans accusing dishonest brokers and traders of manipulating the stock market as they block roads around the Dhaka Stock Exchange in Dhaka Jan. 10, 2011. Bangladesh police fired tear gas and water cannon to break up violent protests by investors on Monday after stock trading was halted when prices went into free fall.

Bangladesh suspended trading at its main stock exchange Monday and security officials used batons to disperse thousands of angry investors upset over a market plunge.

The benchmark Dhaka Stock Exchange general index (DGEN) rose 80 percent in 2010 but has fallen several times over the last few weeks. It tumbled 7.8 percent Sunday and 9 percent in early trading Monday, prompting an indefinite suspension on trading.

After the protesters began gathering Monday morning, authorities used batons to try to keep the demonstrations from spreading, police official Mohammad Shohidullah said.

But protesters continued to demonstrate at several busy intersections in Dhaka's Motijheel commercial district, where the stock exchange is located, smashing vehicles, burning tires and chanting anti-government slogans, Shohidullah said.

An APTN cameraman at the scene said he saw some protesters injured as police swooped in on them to stop them from using loudspeakers.

Shohidullah would not say whether any security officials were injured.

One of the protesters, Mukul Ahmed, said he had lost $3,000 in the market over the last three weeks.

The government regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, held an emergency meeting Monday with merchant bankers and institutional stockbrokers to decide what actions to take to save the market from further falls.

Trading was also suspended on the stock exchange in Chittagong, Bangladesh's second-largest city.

A government website said trading in Dhaka and Chittagong would remain suspended until further notice.

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