Bangladesh: Fresh clashes kill 23


Bangladeshi police officials fire rubber bullets and teargas shells towards demonstrators during a clash with Jamaat-e-Islami activists in the north western city of Rajshahi, about 260 kms from the capital Dhaka, on March 1, 2013. The number of people killed in clashes in Bangladesh over the conviction of Islamist leaders for war crimes rose to 53 on Friday, as fresh outbursts of violence erupted.



Fresh clashes in Bangladesh have killed at least 23 people as the country observes a nationwide strike over a war crimes court's ruling to sentence an Islamist party leader to death.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a cleric and leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, was found guilty on Thursday of crimes against humanity committed during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

He was the third defendant to be convicted by the tribunal. Since his sentencing, violent clashes have broken out, leaving at least 58 people dead.

Dr. Kazi Anis Ahmed, director of the Gemcon Group and a founder of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, confirmed to GlobalPost Sunday that the situation is escalating quickly.

"The public mood here is very anxious, because no one has a clear sense of how this clash between pro-Liberation secularists and Islamists might finally resolve," Ahmed told GlobalPost on Friday.

"Yet, there is also a strong resolve to see war crimes trials carried out to their end, and also not to be cowed by Jamati threats or violence," he added.

According to the Associated Press, the latest clash occurred after Jamaat activists reportedly attacked four police outposts as well as the office and home of a ruling Awami League party.

BBC News reported that troops have been sent to the country's northern Bogra district, where these clashes occurred.

Jamaat activists say that the tribunal is politically motivated and rights activists have criticized the courts for not being up to international standards.

Seven other Jamaat leaders, including the party's chief, are on trial for war crimes currently.

GlobalPost's senior correspondent in New Delhi, Jason Overdorf, contributed to this report.