|Activists chopped, railways firebombed in violence-plagued Bangladesh after Islamist’s hanging
Bangladesh was rocked by a new wave of deadly violence today as Islamist supporters went on the rampage to vent their fury at the execution of one of their leaders for war crimes.
Abdul Quader Molla became the first person to be hanged for his role in the bloody 1971 war of independence when he was sent to the gallows at a prison in the capital Dhaka late Thursday, AFP reports.
(Pictured, Bangladesh policemen and media gather at the jail gate during the execution of the death sentence of Abdul Quader Molla, in Dhaka).
The hanging took place at 10.01 pm local time, after the Supreme Court had earlier dismissed an appeal for a final review of the death sentence handed down to Molla who was a senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami party.
Fears that the execution could spark further unrest in a country that has been plagued by political violence for much of the year were soon realized as reports emerged of street battles in towns and cities.
Two activists from the ruling Awami League were hacked to death in the southern town of Kalaroa early Friday while Jamaat activists also firebombed train stations, set fire to pro-government businesses and blockaded roads, according to police and other officials.
While there were no immediate reports of violence in Dhaka, large numbers of police could be seen on the streets in anticipation of unrest – particularly after Friday Prayers on the Muslim day of rest.
In Washington, a State Department representative said Bangladesh was passing through a “very sensitive moment,’’ urging all parties to resolve their differences peacefully.
Authorities went ahead with the execution despite widespread international appeals against the move, including from the United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
“It's an historic moment. Finally after four decades, the victims of the genocides of 1971 liberation war have got some justice,'' deputy law minister Quamrul Islam told AFP.
“It's the best gift for [the] nation as we celebrate the Victory Day on December 16,'' he said, referring to the national day that marked Bangladesh's independence war victory against Pakistan.
Molla's wife and children were allowed a final meeting with him at the prison hours before the execution, and found him to be “calm.’’
“He told us that he is proud to be a martyr for the cause of the Islamic movement in the country,'' Molla's son Hasan Jamil told AFP.
Shortly after the execution, Molla's body was driven by police escort to his home village in central Faridpur district, where he was buried beside his parents' graves in a pre-dawn service attended by around 300 people, local police Mohammad Ali told AFP.