Two killed as Bangladesh Islamists protest execution of JI leader


Two student activists have been shot dead in Bangladesh, police said Monday, as the Jamaat-e-Islami party tried to enforce a nationwide strike to protest the execution of a senior leader.

There were also reports of protesters firebombing vehicles around the country as tensions ran high following the execution late Saturday of Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, a leader of the Jamaat.

Police said the body of a 22-year-old student supporter of the party had been found in the western city of Rajshahi on Monday. He had been shot at least five times.

Another student activist died in a hospital on Monday morning after he was shot during clashes between police and protesters in the northwestern district of Sirajganj on Sunday night, the district’s deputy police chief Faruq Ahmed told reporters.

Ahmed said the clashes broke out after police arrested four student supporters of the Jamaat.

Kamaruzzaman was convicted of overseeing a massacre during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Jamaat-e-Islami has condemned the execution as “political murder” and says the government is more interested in mounting a witch-hunt against its opponents than in justice.

Security was tight across the country on Monday with extra police, other security forces and border guards patrolling sensitive places.

Police said a driver was critically wounded when protesters firebombed his truck in the eastern city of Comilla just after midnight.

Protesters also torched a bus just outside Dhaka and three vehicles in the port city of Chittagong, according to media reports.

Bangladesh authorities on Saturday hanged the top opposition leader for overseeing a massacre during the nation’s 1971 independence war.

“Mohammad Kamaruzzaman has been executed at 10.30pm Bangladesh time (1630 GMT),” law and justice minister Anisul Huq said.

Bangladesh went ahead with the execution despite last-minute pleas by the European Union and the United Nations, which has said the trial did not meet international standards.

There are fears it could deepen a months-long political crisis that has seen Islamists and the main opposition party launch nationwide protests to try to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In 2013 hundreds of Jamaat activists were killed when the party held a series of nationwide protests against trials of its leaders by the tribunal, which was established by Hasina’s government.

Security forces have since rounded up thousands of Jamaat supporters in a massive crackdown.

Prosecutors said Kamaruzzaman presided over the massacre of at least 120 unarmed farmers who were lined up and gunned down in the northern village of Sohagpur.

The 1971 war between Bangladeshi nationalists, assisted by Indian troops, and Pakistani forces led to the creation of independent Bangladesh from what was then East Pakistan.

Kamaruzzaman’s lawyers argued that he was only 19 when the nine-month war broke out and was too young to have led any militia.


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