Bangladesh police use pepper spray to disperse activists enforcing strike over fuel prices

Police have used pepper spray and batons to disperse dozens of activists trying to march through the streets of Bangladesh's capital as part of a nationwide general strike to protest a government fuel price hike.

The six-hour strike Wednesday was called by political parties that include the Communist Party of Bangladesh. It has disrupted businesses and closed schools.

At the beginning of the year, the government announced a 9 percent hike in fuel prices, the fifth increase since 2009.

Authorities said the hike was needed to cut the cost of subsidies — estimated at more than $300 million a year.

But critics and opposition parties say the hike will further increase inflation now running at 9 percent.