Clashes in Bangladesh after JI leader’s hanging

DHAKA: Clashes erupted in Bangladesh Wednesday after the execution of a Jamat-e-Islami top leader, heightening tension in a country reeling from a string of killings of secular and liberal activists.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at a Dhaka jail late Tuesday.

Police said they fired rubber bullets after hundreds of Nizami’s supporters attacked them with stones in the northwestern city of Rajshahi, where a liberal professor was killed by suspected extremists last month.

“There were 500 Jamaat activists who were protesting the execution. We fired rubber bullets as they became violent,” Rajshahi police inspector Selim Badsah told AFP, adding that about 20 were arrested.

Jamaat and ruling party supporters also clashed in Chittagong, where about 2,500 extremists attended a service for the executed leader, the port city’s deputy police chief Masudul Hasan told AFP.

Security was tight across the country, with checkpoints erected on main roads in Dhaka to deter violence, and thousands of police patrolling the capital.

Nizami, a 73-year-old former government minister, was the fifth and the most senior opposition figure executed since the secular government set up a controversial war crimes tribunal in 2010.

Security was also stepped up in Nizami’s ancestral district of Pabna, where his body was taken under armed escort for burial in his family’s grave.

“At least 16 activists of Jamaat were arrested (in Pabna) Tuesday night as part of the security clampdown,” local police inspector Ahsanul Haq said.

Jamaat called a nationwide strike for Thursday in protest at Nizami’s execution, saying the charges against him were false and aimed at eliminating the party’s leadership.-AFP