Dhaka: Five people were killed and 45 others, including two journalists and three policemen, injured in violent clashes on Friday between Bangladesh police and activists of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, which is protesting against an ongoing trial of their leaders for 1971 war crimes.
Three Jamaat supporters were killed in north-western Chapai Nawabganj district, while the death of two others was reported from nearby Sirajganj district, officials said.
The clashes broke out after police went to arrest several JI activists wanted on charges of violence during countrywide strikes that JI has been staging for months against war crimes trial.
Police said JI activists attacked them as they raided a village in Chapai Nawabganj district to arrest several Jamaat activists accused of setting afire a power plant during the last month shutdown that left a large area of the district in darkness for months.
"They (JI) activists used women as human shields and mobilised several thousand villagers to attack us ... We first fired rubber bullets and used tear gas shells to disperse them but they hurled crude bombs and gunshots forcing our men to use live bullets for self defence," an official said.
Two Jamaat supporters were killed on the spot and one succumbed to his wounds later at a hospital, while several others were being treated, local media reports said.
In a nearly identical case in northwestern Sirajganj district, two persons were killed and 45 others, including two journalists and three policemen, were injured when JI workers attacked policemen after they arrested a fellow activist being backed by supporters of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
"The clash visibly took a triangular look as (ruling) Awami League supporters also launched a counter-attack on Jamaat-BNP activists," a journalist told PTI by phone.
Over 80 people were killed in clashes after a special tribunal delivered verdicts handing down death penalties to two and life imprisonment to another JI stalwart on charges of "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 liberation war.
The violence came two days after authorities ordered
"shoot at sight" the "saboteurs" as main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and partners in 18-party alliance including JI enforced a nationwide 36-hour strike demanding resignation of the ruling Awami League.
The BNP is waging a campaign over electoral system demanding restoration of a caretaker government system for election oversight as the national election are due next year.