dpa/GNA – At least five Islamist activists died after being shot in clashes with police during a protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, police said on Friday.
Officer Alauddin Talukder told dpa that the activists died in hospital after they suffered bullet wounds during the clashes in Hathazari in Chattogram district.
Five others were undergoing treatment at the hospital, he said.
Talukder said police fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the protesters from Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, a radical Islamic group campaigning for sharia, or Islamic law, as they were attacking government establishments.
Several thousand activists from the group came out after Friday prayers from Hathazari Madrassa, the headquarters of the Islamic group, to protest against the Indian leader’s Bangladesh visit.
Modi is a hate figure for some groups in Bangladesh. He was accused of inciting a riot against Muslims in 2002 when he was the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat. The riot reportedly killed at least 1,000 people.
The protesters on Friday attacked a police station, local administration buildings and the land records office, prompting the police to fire rubber bullets, said Ruhul Amin, a local government official.
They also set the land records office and a government bungalow on fire, he said.
Modi arrived in Dhaka on a two-day official visit to attend Bangladesh’s celebration of the golden jubilee of its independence.
Protesters also clashed with police in the capital Dhaka that left dozens of people wounded.
In the evening, one person died after demonstrators clashed with police in the eastern Brahmanbaria district, according to district medical officer Arifur Rahman.
Protesters from a local madrassa, or religious school, set fire to a number of vehicles and government offices including a police station and a train station, suspending railway communication between the district and other parts of the country, district police chief Anisur Rahman said.
He added the clashes lasted for more than two hours before the officers were able to bring the situation under control. Paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh troops were deployed to prevent further incidents.
The Islamic group called a nationwide general strike for Sunday to protest what it called police attacks on peaceful demonstrations that left five of its activists dead.
“Our protest was not against the government, we organized the action against Modi, who represses Muslims in India,” Azizul Haque, a leader of the Hefazat-e-Islami Bangladesh, told reporters after announcing Sunday’s strike.