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Two Die after Bangladesh War Crimes Protest

W460

Two people died on Thursday after suffering injuries in violent clashes between police and Islamists earlier in the week during protests over war crimes trials in Bangladesh.

The demonstrators have been demanding a halt to the trials of opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party leaders for crimes including genocide and rape they are alleged to have committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

Nine people have now died of political violence including Jamaat supporters, some of whom were shot dead, since the Islamists launched the protests last month.

Police said a lift operator of a state bank succumbed to head injuries after he was beaten by supporters of Jamaat on Wednesday as clashes erupted between police and Islamists in Dhaka's main commercial area.

A village guard who was gravely injured on Tuesday in another violent protest that broke out near the southeastern port city of Chittagong also died of his wounds on Thursday afternoon, police said.

"He was attacked by Shibir (student wing of Jamaat) activists," Rabiul Islam, Chittagong special branch police chief, told AFP.

The entire leadership of Jamaat including its chief and deputy chief and two senior officials of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been tried by a war crimes tribunal set up by the country's secular government.

A senior Jamaat leader was sentenced to life imprisonment last week for mass murder.

The government says the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the nine-month war in which it says three million people were killed, many by pro-Pakistani militia whose members allegedly included Jamaat officials.

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