On any given Monday, Motijheel -- the commercial center of Dhaka -- is a bustling, chaotic mess of rickshaws and cars jockeying for space in overcrowded streets with an equally determined mass of pushing, shoving pedestrians.
This Monday was different.
Motijheel resembled a battleground, desolate and destroyed.
A day earlier, it was.
Throughout the day and late into the night Sunday, police and paramilitary troops battled with Islamists who laid siege to the area. Half a million of them, by many accounts.
It ended when security forces, 10,000-strong, moved into the area early Monday morning to disperse the protesters.
Exactly how many died in the confrontation might never be known.
The national news agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), put the count at 14 dead and more than and more than 75 wounded.
Among them were three police officers, a paramilitary trooper and a 12-year-old boy.
Police in various cities reported a total of 18 deaths as violence spread.
Human rights activists say the final count will be much higher -- one that the government may be loath to share.
Photographs that appeared on online blogs and websites show bodies lying on stairwells or cowered in building corners -- bullet wounds to the head or back, or a pool of blood beside them.
To avoid a repeat of Sunday's violence, police declared no rallies and gatherings can take place all day Monday in Dhaka. And they escorted the Islamist group's leader out of Dhaka.
So protesters focused their efforts elsewhere.
In Narayanganj, a city near the capital, Islamists torched vehicles and fought pitched battles with police.
In the port city of Chittagong, they clashed with police -- with fatalities reported but not confirmed.
How it began
The Islamists are members of the ultra-conservative Hefazat-e-Islami (Protectors of Islam).
They gathered Sunday in numbers that boggled the mind.
Photos taken from balconies and rooftops showed a sea of bodies dressed in white panjabis and kufis -- both traditional Muslim attire in Bangladesh -- cramming the streets of Motijheel to the hilt.
They demanded that the government enact laws that put to death anyone who blasphemed Islam.
They called for mandatory Islamic education for all in this secular Muslim nation.
They wanted a ban on statues, and the words "absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah" reinstated in the constitution.
They declared that men and women should not be allowed to mix freely in this country of 150 million.
And they vowed they would not leave until their demands -- 13 in all -- were met.