Ten more dead in Bangladesh as PM issues warning
DHAKA // Thirteen more deaths were reported in Bangladesh on Sunday in intensified riots and protests sparked by the execution of a top Islamist leader, as the prime minister warned of a crackdown on the violence.
Police said Islamist supporters torched houses and fought in the street with officers in towns and cities during a third day of unrest over the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes.
Six people were killed in the northern town of Patgram and another seven elsewhere overnight, police said, as Islamist supporters enforced a nationwide strike over the execution of Mollah, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.
“Police fired shotgun pellets to disperse the Jamaat protesters who torched at least 20 houses belonging to ruling party supporters,” the government administrator Habibur Rahman said of the violence in Patgram.
Mollah’s hanging on Thursday triggered unrest in the country, already reeling from political violence in the build-up to a deeply divisive national election scheduled for January 5.
Twenty-two people are now known to have died and dozens more have been injured in the clashes since Thursday between outraged Jamaat activists and police and between the activists and supporters of the ruling Awami League.
Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, warned of strong action against the rioters, saying “we have shown enough patience”.
“We will not tolerate anymore.”
Mollah, 65, became the first person to be executed for their role in the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Jamaat called the hanging a “political murder” and said it would avenge it.
Mollah was found guilty in February by a much-criticised domestic tribunal of having been a leader of a pro-Pakistan militia that fought against the country’s independence and killed some of Bangladesh’s top professors, doctors, writers and journalists.
He was convicted of rape, murder and mass murder, including the killing of more than 350 unarmed civilians. Prosecutors called him the “Butcher of Mirpur”, a Dhaka suburb where he committed most of the atrocities.
Of the six killed overnight, police said three died in the southern town of Companyganj, two in the northern town of Ramganj and one in the coastal town of Laxmipur.
At Companyganj, an opposition bastion, police fired rifles to disperse at least 8,000 Jamaat supporters who torched four government offices and attacked officers with crude bombs and guns, police said.
In Ramganj, activists of Jamaat and its main ally, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, attacked a convoy of ruling party lawmakers, leaving two people dead.
Mollah was one of five Islamists and other politicians sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, which the opposition says is aimed at eradicating its leaders.
The sentences have triggered riots and plunged the country into its worst violence since independence. Some 250 people have now been killed in street protests since January, when the first verdicts were handed down.
* Agence France-Presse
Updated: December 15, 2013 04:00 AM