21 killed in Bangladesh after Islamist ordered hanged

Bangladeshi social activists raise their hands in celebration after hearing the International Crimes Tribunal's guilty verdict on Delwar Hossain Sayedee during a rally in central Dhaka on February 28, 2013.

DHAKA - A wave of violence killed at least 21 people in Bangladesh Thursday as Islamists reacted furiously to a ruling that one of their leaders must hang for war crimes during the 1971 independence conflict.

At least 17 of them were shot in clashes between police and protesters that erupted after Delwar Hossain Sayedee, the Jamaat-e-Islami party's vice president, was found guilty of war crimes, including murder, arson and rape.

He is the third person to be convicted by the much-criticised domestic tribunal whose previous verdicts have also been met with outrage from Islamists who say the process is more about score settling than delivering justice.

The latest clashes brought the overall death toll to 37 since the first verdict was delivered on January 21.

Also among the dead were two policemen who were beaten to death after thousands of Jamaat supporters attacked a base in the northern district of Gaibandha, local police chief Monjur Rahman told AFP.

"At least 10,000 Jamaat supporters attacked us with weapons. We were forced to open fire," Rahman said, adding two protesters were shot dead.

Seventeen other people were also killed as violence spread all over the country, police said.

About 300 people including scores of policemen were also injured, doctors and police and local media said.

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