Three killed in more Bangladesh war crimes violence

Witness: "[Police] were firing on everyone and they threw grenades as well... for two hours they were continuously shooting"

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Three people have been killed in Bangladesh after demonstrators protesting against the death sentence on an Islamist party leader clashed with police for a third day running.

Delwar Hossain Sayeedi was sentenced on Thursday on charges including murder, rape and torture during the war of independence in 1971.

Since then, at least 46 people have died in riots across the country.

Mr Sayeedi's Jamaat-e-Islami party says the tribunal is politically motivated.

Running battles

The BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan said Saturday's clashes outside the port city of Chittagong began after hundreds of student activists from Jamaat-e-Islami barricaded a motorway.

Police said they tried to remove the barricades and a pitched battle ensued.

Police fired live ammunition and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, who attacked with bamboo sticks and stones.

Bangladesh independence war, 1971

Soldier
  • Civil war erupts in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding autonomy and later independence
  • Fighting forces an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India
  • In December, India invades East Pakistan in support of the East Pakistani people
  • Pakistani army surrenders at Dhaka and its army of more than 90,000 become Indian prisoners of war
  • East Pakistan becomes the independent country of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971

Mr Sayeedi is the third defendant to be convicted by the tribunal, which was set up in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government to deal with those accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces who attempted to stop East Pakistan (as Bangladesh was then) from becoming an independent country.

Earlier this month, another Jamaat leader, Abdul Kader Mullah, was sentenced to life for crimes against humanity.

In January, former party leader Abul Kalam Azad was found guilty in absentia of eight charges of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.

'Politically motivated'

The tribunal is trying a total of nine Jamaat leaders and two members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

But human rights groups have said the tribunal falls short of international standards.

Jamaat is an ally of the BNP, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

Ms Zia says the war crimes trials are politically motivated to target the opposition. The government has denied the allegation.

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

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