Third day of Bangladesh protests

Last updated 01:06 03/03/2013

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Demonstrators protesting the death penalty given to an Islamic political party leader clashed with Bangladeshi security forces for a third straight day, killing two people and injuring about a dozen, police said.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, one of the top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamic party, was sentenced to death Thursday by a war crimes tribunal for atrocities committed during Bangladesh's 1971 war of separation from Pakistan. The sentence triggered rioting across the country, killing at least 46 people, including the two in the latest fighting, authorities said.

Sayedee, 73, is the third defendant to be convicted by the tribunal, which was set up in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government.

Another seven top leaders of Jamaat, including its chief, Matiur Rahman Nizami, are on trial on war crimes charges.

Jamaat campaigned against Bangladesh's nine-month independence war and formed some auxiliary forces to help the Pakistani troops, but denies committing atrocities.

Bangladesh says the war left 3 million people dead, 200,000 women raped and forced millions to flee to neighboring India.

On Saturday, security forces used tear gas to stop Jamaat supporters from smashing vehicles and blocking roads in Chittagong district, police said. The area is 216 kilometers  southeast of Dhaka, the capital.

Two men were killed and about a dozen injured in the fighting, said a local police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Dhaka's private television stations Ekattor TV and Somoy TV reported that Jamaat supporters erected road blocks and attacked homes of government supporters in parts of the country.

Jamaat is an ally of Bangladesh's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and was a partner in Zia's government from 2001 to 2006.

Zia says the war crimes trials are politically motivated to target the opposition, an allegation denied by the government.

Jamaat and Zia's party have called for a three-day nationwide general strike starting Sunday.

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- AP

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