Source AP ©

Soldiers and police guard streets of Bangladesh's largest cities

Security forces patrolled the streets of Bangladesh's largest cities Thursday, as the military-backed government enforced a curfew to end days of unrest by students demanding an end to emergency rule.

The curfew, imposed Wednesday evening on six cities, including Dhaka, the capital, cleared streets of protesters, forced residents to stay home and temporarily shut down mobile phone services.

Authorities eased the curfew for three hours Thursday afternoon, giving people a chance to shop for food and other necessities, but the streets began emptying again as night fell.

Mobile phone service was restored early Thursday.

There were no signs of protests, but some Dhaka residents expressed unease.

"We're suffering a lot, we don't expect such a situation in the country," said Abdul Malek Chowdhury, a former army officer who had left his home to see what was happening on the streets. "We've passed through many troubled months in the recent past, we're passing through the same old thing even now."

Demonstrations began Monday when University of Dhaka students called for the removal of an army post from the campus. The soldiers withdrew a day later after violent protests left 150 injured, but the protests continued.

As the protests spread, hundreds of people were injured and one person killed.

The students were demanding the immediate restoration of democracy and an end to emergency rule, imposed in January when President Iajuddin Ahmed canceled scheduled elections, outlawed demonstrations, curtailed press freedoms and limited other civil liberties.