DHAKA – At least four people were killed after clashes broke out Friday, December 13, in Bangladesh following the hanging of Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes, intensifying a crisis that has gripped the country for weeks.
“He has been executed at 10.01pm,” a jail official told the media as he emerged from inside Dhaka Central Jail, Gulf News reported.
After executing him on Thursday night, Abdul Quader Mollah was buried in his home town of Faridpur in a funeral in the early hours of Friday morning that was attended by hundreds of mourners.
Mollah was a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.
Mollah had been found guilty in February by a much-criticized domestic tribunal of having been a leader of a pro-Pakistan militia that fought against the country's independence and killed some of Bangladesh's top professors, doctors, writers and journalists.
Last September, Bangladesh's Supreme Court sentenced Mollah, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to death after finding him guilty of murder, rape and torture.
A later appeal to acquit Mollah from all charges was rejected later by the Supreme Court, confirming death sentence for the opposition leader.
Before his execution, his family were allowed a final meeting with the 65-year-old and found him "calm".
"He told us that he is proud to be a martyr for the cause of the Islamic movement in the country," his son, Hasan Jamil, told the AFP after the meeting.
The former East Pakistan declared independence from Islamabad in December 1971 at the end of a nine-month civil war in which the government says three million people were killed.
Independent estimates put the figure much lower.
A dozen of defendants are being tried by the Dhaka-based International Crimes Tribunal, which was set up in March 2010, over their alleged role in the war.
But all the defendants are either members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party or of the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), prompting accusations that the process is politically-driven.
The war trials have angered Islamists and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who call them a politically motivated bid to persecute the leadership of Jamaat.
Receiving the news of Mollah’s execution, police officials accused Jamaat activists of firebombing train stations, setting fire to businesses and blockading key highways.
Violence also erupted near the country's largest mosque in Dhaka after Friday prayers as Jamaat activists detonated crude bombs and torched at least a dozen cars and vehicles.
Local police chief Anisur Rahman added that activists have also tried to burn down the coastal village home of one of the war crimes trial judges.
"They tried to torch the house with kerosene. We fired rubber bullets to disperse them. No one was injured," he said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Bangladesh was passing through a "very sensitive moment", urging all parties to resolve their differences peacefully.
"We've long urged the authorities to assure that trials are free, transparent and in accord with international standards, but we've also urged all parties and their supporters to express their views peacefully and again, to refrain from violence," she said.
Authorities went ahead with the execution despite widespread international appeals against the move, including from UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
The government, which has also rebuffed international pressure to delay the elections scheduled for next month, was unrepentant about the decision to carry out the execution of 65-year-old Mollah.
Jamaat has called the execution a "political murder" and warned of exacting revenge for "every drop" of Mollah's blood.
“People would take revenge on this killing by establishing Islam in Bangladesh, which is stained with the blood of Abdul Quader Mollah,” Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Makbul Ahmed, said in a statement.
But in a sign of the sharp divide in Bangladesh, thousands of secular protesters erupted in celebration as news of the execution came.
They had been camping at Shahbagh square in Dhaka since Tuesday night, shouting slogans including: "Hang Quader Mollah, hang war criminals".
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