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Army sent to north Bangladesh as clashes continue

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 3, 2013 at 5:26 am •  Published: March 3, 2013

In Dhaka, schools and most businesses remained closed Sunday while traffic on the usually clogged streets was thin during the first day of a two-day nationwide strike called by Jamaat-e-Islami. Thousands of security officials were patrolling the streets, according to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

In another development Sunday, the government filed an appeal with the Supreme Court seeking the death penalty for another Jamaat leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, Attorney General Mahbube Alam said. Last month, Mollah was convicted of mass killings during the 1971 war. He received a life prison sentence, a penalty the prosecution considered too lenient.

Seven other Jamaat leaders, including its chief, Matiur Rahman Nizami, are on trial on war crimes charges. The party is accused of forming auxiliary forces that helped the Pakistani army in killing and other serious crimes during the war.

Jamaat, which opposed Bangladesh's struggle for freedom in 1971 but denies committing atrocities, called for a nonstop shutdown across the country for Sunday and Monday to protest the trials.

The United Nations, the United States and the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch have all expressed their concerns over the violence and urged all sides to stop the fighting.

Jamaat is a partner in Bangladesh's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and was a partner in Zia's government from 2001 to 2006.

Zia says the war crimes trials are politically motivated to target the opposition, an allegation denied by the government. Zia's party has called for a nationwide general strike for Tuesday.