Dhaka: Two people were killed on Saturday in continuing violence in Bangladesh as supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami party clashed with police while thousands of anti-Islamist protestors vowed to carry on their street campaign demanding death penalty for radical leaders being tried for alleged war crimes.
The violence came after four people were killed and over 200 injured on Friday as hundreds of Islamists clashed with police in Dhaka and in other major cities demanding execution of "atheist bloggers" they accused of blasphemy.
"We will carry on our movement until war criminals including Abdul Quader Mollah are sent to the gallows," a leading organiser of the Shahbagh protestors said with thousands repeating his words while taking an oath.
Witnesses said over 20,000 young professionals and students shouted "death to the killers" as they rallied at Dhaka's Rayerbazar ground, where many were hacked to death by Bengali-speaking collaborators of Pakistani troops just ahead of the 1971 war victory.
The protest came a day ahead of the Jamaat's planned nationwide general strike backed by their ally, main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to halt the trial of the Jamaat leaders on war crime charges.
Identical demonstrations were staged across the country while the protesters urged the people to reject the hartal called by the Jamaat and like-minded groups on Sunday as part of their "evil campaign" portraying the youngsters as "atheists or anti-Islam".
Earlier in February, a tribunal convicted Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah of mass killings during the war and sentenced him to life in prison, angering the youngsters who considered the judgment lenient and who then rallied at Dhaka's Shahbagh Square and staged a round-the-clock sit-in.
The government said it would appeal Mollah's sentence before the Supreme Court this coming week, asking for the death penalty while law minister Shafique Ahmed said a process was set to be launched to review the scope to ban the Jamaat.
One of the leading organisers of the Shahbagh protest, a 35-year-old architect and blogger Rajib Haidar was hacked to death and the protesters accused Jamaat of murdering their comrade. To counter their protest, the Islamists launched a campaign portraying him and fellow bloggers as "anti-Islamic and atheist".