Islamists demanding the execution of bloggers they accuse of blasphemy clashed with police in Bangladesh for a third straight day Sunday, and at least four protesters were killed when police opened fire.
Up to 3,000 protesters, including students from religious schools, barricaded a highway at Singair in the central district of Manikganj, police said.
“They attacked us with machetes, sticks, bricks and firearms from three sides when we tried to clear the barricade. We fired back in self-defence,” Mizanur Rahman, deputy police chief of Manikganj, told AFP, adding at least 40 people were injured including policemen.
“The imam of the local mosque used a loudspeaker to rally the protesters. They were shouting slogans for the execution of the bloggers, accusing them of being non-believers and atheists,” Rahman said.
Khalilur Rahman, medical officer of Singair Hospital, said three people died of bullet wounds there. A fourth person who was shot died after he was transferred to a Dhaka clinic, police said.
Among the injured, 18 suffered bullet wounds. Fifteen people were injured, three by bullets, in another clash between police, ruling party supporters and Islamists in the southeastern resort district of Cox’s Bazaar, said private television Maasranga.
The violence broke out as 12 small Islamic parties, backed by the largest Islamic group Jamaat-e-Islami and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, called a nationwide strike in protest at Friday’s police action against Islamists.
In Dhaka, the bandh was ineffective with public transport plying and offices open against the Jamaat’s call for a bandh against the police firings on their supporters on Friday.
Four people were killed, three in police shooting, and about 200 injured during Friday’s protests.