2 killed as Bangladesh police, protesters clash

Topics: From the Wires,

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police across Bangladesh clashed Friday with protesters from Islamic political parties denouncing war crimes trials linked to the country’s 1971 independence war, killing two demonstrators and injuring dozens of people, police and witnesses said.

The nationwide protests were held separately by Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, and an alliance of 12 other smaller Islamic parties. Jamaat called the demonstrations to denounce the war crimes trials of its top leaders.

Earlier this month, a special tribunal convicted Jamaat’s assistant secretary, Abdul Quader Mollah, of mass killings during the independence war against Pakistan and sentenced him to life in prison. Another eight leaders of the party are on trial on charges of atrocities during the nine-month war.

The alliance of 12 parties accuses the government of plotting to ban Islamic parties, an allegation denied by the government.

Even though the alliance does not back Jamaat, protesters from both sides mingled Friday in the capital, Dhaka, according to an Associated Press reporter and photographer at the scene.

In Jhenaidah town, 128 kilometers (80 miles) west of Dhaka, clashes between Jamaat activists and police killed one protester, said local police official Hasan-uz Zaman. He provided no further details.

Another protester was killed in Sylhet city, 192 kilometers (120 miles) northeast of Dhaka, when police opened fire on several hundred activists from the Islamic party alliance, a policeman said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the media. Dulal Chandra, a doctor at the state-run Sylhet Medical College Hospital, said a man arrived there dead from the scene of the violence.

In central Dhaka, police fired tear gas when about 2,000 stone-throwing members and supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami took to the streets and tried to overrun police barricades, witnesses said.

About 40 people, including 12 journalists, were injured in the Dhaka clashes, private television station Ekattor TV and ATN News reported.

The alliance of Islamic parties called a nationwide general strike for Sunday, accusing police of foiling their protests.

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