Bangladesh police fired live rounds in clashes with thousands of Islamists at the weekend, killing at least one and injuring dozens.

Violence broke out outside the Baitul Mukarram national mosque as a bomb exploded when scores of Islamists engaged in a scuffle with officers after facing resistance towards a rally.

The Islamists, under the banner of the Hefazat-e-Islam group, kept marching towards the rally venue in Dhaka's commercial district Motijheel after they besieged the capital city for eight hours to press home their 13-point demands.

They include the enactment of an anti-blasphemy law.

Parts of the capital were turned into a battlefield as pitched battles were fought and the city was virtually cut off from the rest of the country as long-distance buses between Dhaka and outlying Bangladesh were kept off the roads.

Leaders of Hefajat-e-Islam, a group of non-political Islamic scholars who draw support from thousands of people across Bangladesh, claimed nearly half a million people joined their activists to make the siege programme a success.

The group is campaigning against a move demanding capital punishment for war criminals and a ban on the Bangladesh Jamaat-e- Islami party.

Many top leaders of the party are alleged to have committed crimes against humanity during the country's nine-month liberation war in 1971.

Political tension in Bangladesh has risen in recent months as the 18-party opposition alliance, which has already dismissed the war crime tribunals as a Government show trial, stoked anti-Government agitation.

l Police in the Bangladesh capital said 610 bodies have now been recovered from a clothing factory complex that collapsed 11 days ago.