Dhaka: Five more people were killed in Bangladesh today in continuing violence triggered by the execution of a senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader, even as the country commemorated its victory in the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.
Police said five “terrorists” were killed overnight in shootouts with law enforcement agencies in southwestern Satkhira. However, media reports described them as Jamaat activists.
Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from across the country but patrols by paramilitary Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) troops and aerial vigil by elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) helicopters prevented the rioters from coming out on the streets in major cities.
At least 30 people have been killed in clashes since Thursday night, when fundamentalist Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah, known as the “Butcher of Mirpur”, was hanged for atrocities committed during the liberation war.
Mollah, who was executed after the Supreme Court rejected his review petition, became the first politician to be put to death for war crimes.
Violence erupted at several places soon after his execution, which the Jamaat described as a “political murder” even as it vowed to take revenge.
Molla was one of five condemned to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, sentences which the opposition says are aimed at eradicating its leaders.
The sentences have triggered riots and plunged the country into its worst violence since independence. Some 255 people have been killed in street protests since January, when the first verdicts were handed down.
The BNP-led alliance, that includes the Jamaat, is also leading a parallel protest campaign demanding a non-party caretaker government for oversight during the January 5 national polls.
Meanwhile, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a predawn ceremony paid homage to the martyrs of the liberation war at the National Memorial in Savar.
Thousands of people also paid tributes with flowers and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia too joined in to celebrate the anniversary of the war victory.
An estimated three million people were killed during the war when Pakistani troops invaded Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan.