Thu, Feb 07, 2013 - Page 6 News List

More protests rock Bangladesh after verdict

AP, DHAKA

Bangladeshi bloggers and online activists stage a sit-in yesterday at the Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on the second day of a “dawn-to-dusk” strike called by the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party to protest the trial and conviction of one of its leaders.

Photo: EPA

Police clashed for the second day yesterday with activists from Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party, which is protesting the conviction of the party leader of a series of killings during the country’s 1971 independence war. More than two dozen small, homemade bombs also exploded in the country’s north, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Local news reports said that at least 10 people had been injured yesterday in clashes outside Dhaka, a day after the verdict was announced. Street battles across the country on Tuesday killed up to four people and injured dozens more.

The clashes came after the Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, ordered a nationwide general strike, shutting down schools and shops, to protest the conviction and sentence of life in prison handed down to Abdul Quader Mollah.

Because of the strike, traffic was thin yesterday on the usually clogged streets of Dhaka and schools and most businesses were closed in major cities and towns across the country.

Despite tight security in Dhaka, with security forces patrolling the streets, television footage showed protesters throwing stones at police yesterday in Dhaka.

A local news agency, bdnews24.com, reported that police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse protesters in the Narayanganj district near Dhaka, leaving at least 10 people injured.

Local media also reported that at least 25 homemade bombs exploded yesterday in the northeastern district of Sylhet, but there were no reports of injuries or destruction. Up to four people reportedly died on Tuesday in clashes between police and the party activists in Chittagong, 216km southeast of Dhaka.

On Tuesday, Mollah was convicted of killing a student and a family of 11 and of aiding Pakistani troops in killing 369 other people. Defense lawyer Abdur Razzaq has said he will appeal the verdict.

Opposition leaders have criticized the war crimes trials, held 40 years after the country won independence from Pakistan, as an effort to weaken challengers to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Human rights groups have raised concerns about the trials’ fairness.

The tribunal was formed by the Hasina government in 2010. Jamaat-e-Islami, a key ally of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, says the trials are politically motivated, and Zia, a former prime minister, has called the tribunal a farce. Authorities deny the claim.

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