Bangladesh protesters die in clashes

AFP-JIJI

Police fired on Islamist demonstrators in southwestern Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing two as machete-wielding protesters went on the rampage over the conviction of a top Islamist leader for war crimes.

Several thousand supporters of the country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, took to the streets in Satkhira district, attacking police with sticks and machetes and throwing homemade bombs, officers said. Jamaat supporters set upon one officer as police tried to clear a road blocked by fallen trees in the town of Kaliganj. “They hacked him (the officer) with a machete. We opened fire at them to rescue the officer. Two Jamaat activists were hit by bullets and they died,” district deputy police Chief Tajul Islam said.

Islamists and secular groups called rival strikes over the conviction and sentence of 90-year-old Ghulam Azam, the spiritual leader of Jamaat, for masterminding atrocities during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.