Strike Over War Crimes Trials Hits Bangladesh, 6 Killed

DHAKA (TIP): Violence grippedBangladesh on Thrusday asactivists of the fundamentalistJamaat-e-Islami clashed withpolice, leaving six people,including a constable, dead andseveral others injured, during anationwide strike called to protestthe 1971 war crimes trials.The nationwide general strikewas enforced by the Jamaat- e-Islami and backed by mainopposition Bangladesh NationalistParty (BNP) to halt an ongoingtrial of their top leaders for 1971war crimes charges.

Police said four people werekilled in northwestern Bograalone in clashes between progovernmentand JI activists, whilethe town, said to be an oppositionstronghold, also saw riot policeusing rubber bullets and tear gas.”The four died within hours inthe afternoon… Jamaat activistsare still fighting with lawenforcement agencies,” a seniorpolice officer of Bogra said.A local journalist said the fourdead were suspected to be JIworkers.

Two of them died on theoutskirts of the town as theyexchanged gunshots with policeand elite anti-crime Rapid ActionBattalion (RAB).Deputy commissioner oradministrative chief of BograSarwar Hossain said paramilitaryBorder Guard Bangladesh (BGB)was kept on standby to be calledout anytime as “violence is stillunderway” despite the end of thestrike hours.

A driver of a three wheelerautorickshaw driver succumbedto his wounds after his vehiclewas attacked by JI activists fordefying the strike call insouthwestern Feni, the hometownof BNP chief Khaleda Zia.The sixth victim was apoliceman who died earlier in themorning at western Jessoredistrict, with police saying he diedof a massive heart attack duringclashes.

Witnesses said Jamaat-e-Islamiactivists clashed with riot policeat Satmatha area of Bogra town,leaving over a dozen peopleinjured at the fag end of the strikehours.They said vandalism, explosionof homemade bombs and torchingof vehicles marked the generalstrike in the capital Dhaka andsoutheastern port city ofChittagong where police arrestedover a dozen Jamaat-e-Islamiactivists.

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Jamaat had called a half-dayshutdown in the capital Dhakaand southeastern port city ofChittagong and day-long strikeelsewhere demanding release oftheir top leaders including partychief Matiur Rahman Nizami,being tried for “crimes againsthumanity” during the Indiabacked1971 Liberation Waragainst Pakistan.

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