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Bangladesh: Deadly riots which has killed 62 continues


Days of rioting in Bangladesh after a controversial war crimes tribunal verdict has left at least 62 people dead. The unrest began after Islamist leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death on Thursday.

At least 19 people were killed Sunday in clashes between police and supporters and activists from Jamaat-e-Islami - the party of Sayedee - police said. A child, two women and a policeman were among the dead.

The 73-year-old Sayedee, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to death at the end of a trial that saw him accused of murder, looting, arson, rape and the forcible conversions of Hindus to Islam during the 1971 war of secession from Pakistan.

The sentenced sparked widespread protests from party supporters and activists, who said the ruling was politically motivated.

Violence in Bogra

The army was deployed in the northern district of Bogra, some 230 kilometers (143 miles) north of the capital Dhaka, where nine people were killed in an exchange of gunfire between protesters and police Sunday, police officer Abdul Waris said.

Protesters also stormed a police station, set fire to houses including those of leaders of the ruling Awami League party and minority Hindus, and pulled away train lines, disrupting rail services in several districts, police said.

Controversial tribunal

Sunday's violence brings the four-day death toll to at least 62 since Sayedee's death sentence. He is the third person to be convicted by the war crimes tribunal. The court was established by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 to investigate abuses during the 1971 in which around 3 million civilians were killed. About 200,000 women were raped in the conflict, and thousands of homes were torched.

Opposition parties say Hasina is using the tribunal to persecute them, and the court has been criticized by rights groups for failing to adhere to international standards.

Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, became part of Pakistan after British colonial rule ended in 1971. The country, known then as East Pakistan, won independence with the help of Indian in December of that year, following a nine-month war with Pakistan.

Sunday was also the first day of a three-day strike called by Jamaat-e.Islami and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

dr/rc (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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