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Islamist shot dead in Bangladesh violence: police

April 11, 2013

Bangladeshi demonstrators rally with black flags as they oppose an ongoing nationwide strike called by the student wing of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami in Dhaka on April 11, 2013. The strike follows a nationwide crackdown on the opposition including the detention of more than 200 senior officials of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the entire leadership of the largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami.—Photo by AFP

DHAKA: A protester from Bangladesh's largest Islamic party was shot dead on Thursday as police opened fire at hundreds of opposition activists on the fourth day of a nationwide strike.

Police said the shooting occurred in the southern town of Dumuria where they fired live rounds at 500 supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, during protests to demand the release of the head of its student wing.

The violence is the latest to hit Bangladesh stemming from a continuing war crimes tribunal, at which almost the entire Jamaat leadership is in the dock for crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

The latest killing brought the overall death toll from clashes triggered by the trials to 98 since January 21 when the court handed down its first verdicts.

“Police opened fire after they came under attack from 500 Jamaat supporters,” Khulna district police chief Ghulam Rouf Khan told AFP, adding that the protesters fired guns and hurled home-made bombs at police.

“A Jamaat man, hit with a bullet in the chest, died on the way to a hospital,” another police officer, Kazi Abu Salek, told AFP.

Some 20 Jamaat supporters were hit with bullets and five police officers were injured in the clashes, online newspaper said.

The trials have plunged the impoverished country into one of its most turbulent chapters since independence. Analysts fear lasting damage to the fabric of the world's eighth-most populous country.