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Death toll in Bangladesh protests rises to 40

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New Delhi, Mar 1 (EFE).- Forty people have died in disturbances that broke out in Bangladesh after a leader of the nation's main Islamist party was sentenced to death, the official UNB news agency reported Friday.

Following the 39 people killed on Wednesday, another victim died Friday morning when members of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, or JeI, beat to death a supporter of the ruling Awami League in the northern town of Sundarganj.

The disturbances began after a Dacca court condemned JeI leader Delawar Hossain Sayedi to be hanged for crimes against humanity during the 1971 conflict that transformed East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh.

The protests extended through different parts of the country, with clashes of the JeI and its youth organization with Bangladeshi law enforcement and Awami League activists.

JeI militants also attacked members of Bangladesh's minority Hindu community.

Since the Islamist leader Abdul Kader, also of the JeI, was sentenced to life imprisonment last Feb. 4 for his role in the 1971 war, the renewal of violence in the Asian country has left at least 54 people dead.

While anti-Islamist groups have taken to the streets to demand tougher sentences for those found guilty, Islamists have called a number of strikes to protest what they say are politically motivated trials.

Up to now two leaders of the JeI, which during the war of independence was allied with Pakistan, have been sentenced to death, and another to life imprisonment.

To keep an electoral promise, the Bangladeshi prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, set up a special tribunal in 2010 to judge the war crimes of 1971. Most of the accused belong to the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

That conflict left 3 million dead and saw 2 million women raped, according to unofficial figures.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130303/death-toll-bangladesh-protests-rises-40