By Naim-Ul-Karim DHAKA, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Four people were shot dead and dozens of others including law enforcers wounded in a central Bangladeshi district Sunday when anti-riot police clashed with demonstrators during a strike enforced by some religion-based parties and groups.
The law enforcers and the pro-hartal pickets clashed for hours in Manikganj district, some 63 km northwest of capital Dhaka, when the anti-riot police reportedly fired 100 gunshots and rubber bullets to bring the situation under control.
Local Channel 24 television reported that "four people died after succumbing to bullet injuries."
According to the report, at least two people who were rushed to hospital with serious bullet wounds remained in critical condition.
It was not immediately possible to confirm whether the deceased were pro-hartal activists.
The district's administration chief Masud Karim confirmed to Xinhua the death of three persons and said about 50 people including 15-20 policemen were injured.
He said a police officer remains in critical condition.
In protest against the killings, the religion-based parties called hartal in Manikganj district for Monday.
Incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, chase and counter-chase and detention have also been reported in parts of capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.
The Islamist parties and groups enforced the hartal protesting what they said attacks on their Friday's demonstrations which were to demand punishment to'atheist' bloggers.
Thousands of activists of the like-minded Islamist parties including Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islmai party have taken to the streets in Dhaka and elsewhere since Friday in protest against what they said the "anti-Islamic" campaign by some "atheist bloggers" from the ongoing Shahbag movement.
Youths imbued with the spirit of the country's nine-month liberation war gathered in Shahbag on Feb. 5 under the banner of " Bloggers and Online Activist Network" hours after the International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary general of Jamaat, to life term imprisonment for his war crimes.
The Shahbag Square protesters have been demanding capital punishment to the war criminals.
Eight more top leaders of Jamaat, which allegedly collaborated with the Pakistani forces to prevent an independent Bangladesh in 1971, are now facing trials for committing crimes against humanity during the nine-month liberation war.
In the incidents of violence on Friday and Saturday, at least six people were dead and scores including policemen and journalists injured in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country as thousands of activists from the religion-based parties and groups fought pitched battles with the police.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Friday said her government won't tolerate disparaging remarks against Islam's holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad.
She said the South Asian country would be a secular country where people of all faiths would live together in peace following their own religions without any hindrance.