Violence grips Bangladesh; 3 killed in clashes

Dhaka: At least three persons were killed in clashes in Bangladesh as fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami enforced a nationwide general strike on Monday to protest their leaders' ongoing trial for 1971 war crimes.
The strike called by the JI received a lukewarm response as its crucial ally and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) declined to extend its support for the bandh unlike previous occasions.
Witnesses said JI activists adopted a hit and run tactic in Dhaka and several other cities amid a clarion call by hundreds of young protestors at Shahbagh Square here to defy the strike. The Shabagh protesters have been mounting pressure on BNP to severe links with JI.
One pedestrian was killed when a minibus overturned as it was chased by JI activists, who also damaged four buses in the capital. The transport operators defied the JI's strike call expressing solidarity with demands for trial of "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 War against Pakistan.
Another death was reported from central Comilla district where JI activists clashed with police. Witnesses said one person died with bullet injuries after JI protesters went on rampage on the street prompting the police intervention.
The third death was reported from southeastern Cox's Bazar, a stronghold of Jamaat. The victim was a patient who died when JI activists attacked his ambulance.
Many schools in Dhaka were open though with thin student presence while businesses and major shopping centers remained open as the main shop owners association at a press briefing yesterday said they planned to ignore the call by JI, which was opposed to Bangladesh's 1971 independence from Pakistan.