Bangla police kill three Islamist protesters
Bangladeshi police on Friday gunned down three Islamist activists who were protesting against two of their leaders’ convictions for war crimes, while even larger demonstrations calling for the men to be executed continued for an 11th day.
A tribunal sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah to life in prison on February 5 for war crimes including murder, rape and torture. Most Bangladeshis had expected a death sentence to be handed to Mollah, assistant secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami – the country’s biggest Islamist party.
Tens of thousands have protested every day in more than a dozen cities since the sentencing, demanding the execution of Mollah and others convicted of war crimes. In Dhaka, demonstrations have attracted crowds of more than 100,000.
However the judgment – which followed the conviction of another former Jamaat leader on similar charges last month – also led to smaller counter-protests around the country, involving around 5,000 Jamaat activists in total.
The deaths on Friday took place in the southeastern town of Cox’s Bazar town, a popular tourist resort, during battles between police and Jamaat activists. Police said they opened fire after teargas failed to disperse the activists.
The town’s police chief Mohammad Azad Mia said his officers had used guns after Islamists had first opened fire, set off dozens of crude bombs and hurled stones and bricks. He said, “We had to open fire in self defence, as the Islamist militants turned on law enforcers."
At least 30 activists were wounded in Cox’s Bazar and more than 150 arrested on Friday, while eight police were injured.
Jamaat has called for a two-day strike in Cox’s Bazar over the weekend and a day-long national strike on Monday to protest the killings. Local reports said hundreds of tourists, including some foreigners, were fleeing the town, anticipating more violence.
Posted by: ryuge