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Bangladesh: Violent clashes raise death toll to at least 44

The number of people killed in Bangladesh following the conviction of an Islamist leader of war crimes has risen to at least 44, as protesters clashed with police.

Bangladesh war crimes clashes death toll 53Enlarge
Bangladeshi police officials fire rubber bullets and teargas shells towards demonstrators during a clash with Jamaat-e-Islami activists in the north western city of Rajshahi, about 260 kms from the capital Dhaka, on March 1, 2013. The number of people killed in clashes in Bangladesh over the conviction of Islamist leaders for war crimes rose to 53 on Friday, as fresh outbursts of violence erupted. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Bangladesh continued on Friday, pushing the death toll up to at least 44.

The protests began on Thursday, after a special war crimes tribunal handed down a death sentence for Delwar Hossain Sayedee, leader of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, for crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Police told Agence France Presse that two people were killed in clashes between hundreds of pro-government supporters and Jamaat-e-Islami followers. AFP reported the death toll at 53, citing police sources.

Police also fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse Jamaat protesters in the capital Dhaka, after they tried to launch marches following weekly prayers, leaving several people injured, police said.

Jamaat followers were furious about the sentencing of Sayedee, calling it politically motivated, according to The New York Times. Sayedee was accused by prosecutors of looting and burning villages, raping women and forcing people to convert to Islam during the war in 1971.

More on GlobalPost: Bangladesh: Islamist sentenced to death for war crimes, sparking deadly protests

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/bangladesh/130301/bangladesh-violent-clashes-raise-death-toll-53