DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Authorities deployed soldiers in a northern Bangladeshi district Sunday after activists of the country's largest Islamic party clashed with police, leaving three people dead during a nationwide general strike called to denounce an ongoing war crimes trial.
Separately two people died Sunday in a northwestern district during similar clashes.
With the latest casualties, the death toll in days of rioting has risen to 51 since Thursday after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death for atrocities committed during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
Sayedee, 73, is the third defendant to be convicted by the tribunal, which was set up in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government.
Bangladesh says the war left 3 million people dead, 200,000 women raped and forced millions to flee to neighboring India.
Mokbul Hossain, an additional police superintendent in Bogra district, said the deployment of troops came after three men died in clashes on Sunday.
Hossain said the latest violence erupted after the activists of Jamaat-e-Islami attacked at least four police outposts and a ruling Awami League office and torched a home of a local ruling party leader. The army was guarding a police station, he said.
Authorities banned all gatherings in the troubled locality to stop any further escalation of violence.
Separately, two people, including a child, died in Rajshahi district, the Daily Star newspaper and Independent television station reported. Details were not immediately available and the reports could not be independently verified immediately.
In the nation's capital, Dhaka, schools and most businesses remained closed Sunday while traffic on the usually clogged streets was thin. Thousands of security officials were patrolling the streets, according to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
The Islamic party, which opposed Bangladesh's struggle for freedom in 1971, has called for a non-stop shutdown across the country for Sunday and Monday.
The party is accused of forming auxiliary forces that helped the Pakistani army in killing and other serious crimes during the war.
Seven other Jamaat leaders, including its chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, are on trial on war crimes charges.
The United Nations, the United States and the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch have separately expressed their concern 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.