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Bangladesh protests claim 4 more lives

By Farid Ahmed for CNN
updated 4:54 AM EST, Mon February 25, 2013
Protesters in Dhaka beat and burn an effigy of a blogger during a nationwide strike Sunday in Bangladesh.
Protesters in Dhaka beat and burn an effigy of a blogger during a nationwide strike Sunday in Bangladesh.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four killed, scores hurt, including 21 police officers, in protests near capital
  • Islamists call general strike in Bangladesh; Dhaka protesters object
  • The protests began with a war crimes trial verdict issued on February 5

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- At least four people were killed and more than a hundred injured in fresh violence in Bangladesh as the Islamist groups clashed with police near the capital, Dhaka, on Sunday, police said.

"We've confirmed four deaths in Singair of Manikganj so far," district police chief Mohammad Ali Mia told CNN. Manikganj district is 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) west of Dhaka.

Police said Sunday was largely peaceful across Bangladesh except in Manikganj, where several thousand Islamists took to the streets and attacked police with lethal weapons and firearms.

Police fired nearly 300 gunshots and 50 tear-gas shells in a bid to disperse the angry mob who gathered there after an imam of a local mosque used a loudspeaker to ask them to rally against bloggers they accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed, calling them anti-Islamic elements.

Mia said that 21 police officers were injured, including the officer-in-charge of a local police station, Liaquat Ali.

Meanwhile in Dhaka, hundreds of protesters in the city's Shahbagh Square took to the street and brought out a procession rejecting the strike called by Islamist groups on Sunday. A coalition of 12 Islamist parties enforced a general strike across Bangladesh on Sunday to protest the killing of four of its supporters when police fired during a blasphemy protest on Friday.

In a recent spate of violence, at least 24 people have been killed in less than three weeks in response to a war crimes trial verdict announced on February 5 that sentenced a Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life imprisonment.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly young, occupied Dhaka's Shahbagh Square immediately and demanded death penalty for those involved in wartime crimes perpetrated more than four decades ago, while Jamaat called a series of strikes demanding that the trial process be dismissed and calling it "politically motivated."

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