DHAKA - Bangladesh police fired live rounds Saturday in fresh clashes with supporters of the country’s largest Islamic party whose leaders are standing trial for war crimes, killing two people.
In Saturday’s clashes, police said they fired live rounds after up to 5,000 Islamists attacked them with stones and firearms just outside northern Pabna town, killing two people and injuring about 30.
“We fired in self-defence,” Pabna’s deputy police chief Mollick Ruhul Amin told AFP.
“One of our officers was also hit by (a) bullet and at least 10 to 12 policemen were injured,” he added.
Jamaat-e-Islami party called a half-day strike in Pabna district to protest what they say were attacks by ruling party supporters on its members and offices on Friday.
Abu Taleb, district Jamaat secretary, told AFP that police shot dead unarmed protesters, while denying that its own activists had attacked them.
The party has mounted a string of nationwide strikes since last month, protesting trials of 10 of its leaders, including its head and deputy head, for war crimes allegedly committed in the 1971 war.
At least 16 people have been killed during protests over the war crimes trials, including several who were shot dead by police.
The clashes have intensified since a Jamaat leader was sentenced to life imprisonment for mass murder during the war in which the country’s secular government says three million people were killed.
Jamaat says the trials are based on trumped up charges and are part of a wider political vendetta against the opposition.
The leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia, has accused Hasina Wajid of politicising the tribunal and conveniently using it to hound her political enemies. All of the 10 people indicted for war crimes by the tribunal are opposition politicians, eight of them from the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party and an ally of Zia’s BNP.