DHAKA (AFP) – Militants clashed with police in several Bangladesh cities on Thursday as part of a nationwide strike to protest against their leader being sentenced to death for war crimes, police said.
Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at rock-throwing protesters who tried to block several key highways in the northwestern cities of Bogra and Rajshahi, police officers told AFP. Protesters exploded cocktail bombs in Bogra, a stronghold of the country’s largest militant party, Jamaat-e-Islami, local police chief Saifuzzaman Faruqui said.
“At least 140 Jamaat activists have been arrested from the city to prevent violence,” he said. Nearly 100 Jamaat activists were also arrested from Rangpur region, police said.
Demonstrations and sporadic clashes also erupted in about a dozen other towns and cities, local media reported, as Jamaat supporters took to the streets to enforce the three-day strike starting on Thursday. The clashes came one day after a court convicted Motiur Rahman Nizami, the leader of Jamaat since 2000, of mass murder, rape and looting during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.