Three opposition protesters died Saturday in clashes with police in Bangladesh, where close to 50 people have been killed in protests since a death sentence for an Islamist leader became known two days ago, local media said.
The fatalities belonged to the youth group of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, or JeI, whose leadership in recent months has been the object of a judicial crackdown because of their implication in crimes against humanity during the 1971 conflict that transformed East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh.
According to state news agency UNB, the worst clash of the day was in the southeastern district of Satkania, near the port city of Chittagong.
Several radicals there threw stones at police who responded with gunfire, killing three of them and wounding 11.
The latest violence broke out Thursday after a Dacca court condemned JeI leader Delawar Hossain Sayedi to be hanged for crimes of genocide, murder and looting.
The Islamist party, which during the conflict was allied with Pakistan, has called a two-day nationwide strike beginning Sunday, when further disturbances are expected.
In a communique on Saturday, Human Rights Watch, or HRW, urged the Bangladeshi government and Jamaat-e-Islami “to act urgently to ensure that security forces and party supporters do not engage in further acts of violence.”
HRW denounced the use of “live ammunition against protesters” by police and indiscrimate attacks “against Hindu temples and houses” by the Islamists.
The 1971 war left 3 million dead and saw 2 million women raped, according to unofficial figures.