Activists from Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party have clashed with security forces for a fifth day during a nationwide strike called to denounce war crimes trials, leaving at least three people dead and dozens injured, police say.
The casualties on Monday raised the death toll to 61 from rioting triggered by a death sentence given last week to Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a top leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, for alleged crimes linked to the nation’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
Supporters of Sayedee attacked police and government offices, uprooted railroad tracks, and set fire to trains and houses belonging to government supporters. Police responded with bullets and tear gas.
The opposition party says the war crime trials are politically motivated. The government denies the allegation.
Police fired on protesters in Satkhira district, killing two people, a local police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media. Satkhira is 175 kilometres west of Dhaka.
A teenage protester was killed in a similar clash in Sirajganj district, 105 kilometres northwest of Dhaka, the Daily Star newspaper reported.
Blast in capital
In Dhaka, a small homemade bomb exploded outside a hotel where visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was staying. Police official Biplab Sarker said no one was hurt and Pranab was not in the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel when the explosion occurred.
Mukherjee arrived in Dhaka on Sunday for a three-day visit.
Also on Monday, protesters set fire to two coaches of a train parked at Dhaka’s main railway station, Mujibul Haq, junior railway minister, said.
The coaches were empty and no one was hurt.The rioting underlines Bangladesh’s history of political violence.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government initiated the war crimes trials in 2010.
Prosecutors have put 12 people on trial, including 11 opposition politicians belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami and its main ally, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Bangladesh says its nine-month war of independence left three million people dead, 200,000 women raped and forced millions to flee to neighboring India.
Jamaat campaigned against independence, but denies committing atrocities.