60 injured as Jamaat men clash with police

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At least 60 people, mostly activists of Jamaat-Shibir and law enforcers, were injured in violent clashes after the police raided Khanabari village in Sundarganj upazila of Gaibandha early Sunday in search of opposition men accused in murder cases.
Of the injured, at least 35 people were hit by bullets as the police opened fire to disperse the frenzied mob of villagers led by activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir while 24 lawmen also suffered injuries in the clashes which broke out after the police went to the village to hunt down opposition activists accused in different cases, particularly the cases relating to the killing of four police personnel, said the police.
Gaibandha superintendent of police Mofazzal Hossain said that the joint forces had fired 755 rubber bullets and 441 gunshots to bring the situation under control.
Hundreds of villagers led by Jamaat-Shibir men attacked the police, torched a police car and vandalised nearly 12 houses during the fighting that continued for about eight hours, the SP told New Age.
He said the police had descended on Rambhadra, Khanabari, Saichantala and Kalarghat villages around 1:30am Sunday to arrest the fugitives in different cases filed in connection with the recent spate of political violence in the district.
He said that the Jamaat-Shibir men had called out the villagers on the PA system of a local mosque asking them to pounce on the law enforcers. ‘They [Jamaat-Shibir men] used women and children as human shield by putting them in the front while attacking the police,’ he added.
‘Primarily a 120-strong police force started the drive at 1:30am and Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh personnel joined the police before dawn,’ he said.
During the raid, villagers led by Jamaat-Shibir activists ringed the police around 5:00am and attacked them with sticks and stones, triggering the clashes which left at least 60 people, including 24 members of law enforcement agencies, injured, local sources said.
He said that the joint forces had arrested five Jamaat-Shibir men and continued the drive.
Earlier, Jamaat-Shibir activists put barricades at different points on the road leading to the village in a bid to stop the joint forces from advancing, Mofazzal Hossain said.
At one point, the Jamaat-Shibir men swooped on the law enforcers with bamboo sticks and machetes, forcing the joint forces to open fire, he said.
Locals said at least 20 Jamaat-Shibir men and 10 other villagers had sustained bullet injuries in the clashes. Of them, seven people were admitted to different hospitals and clinics in Rangpur.
The police filed cases against over 60,000 people relating to a series of violence after the International Crimes Tribunal handed down death sentence to Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee in February last year.
Six people, including four police personnel, were killed during violent clashes between Jamaat-Shibir activists and law enforcers at Sundarganj on February 28, 2013 hours after the ICT pronounced the verdict against Sayedee. The Jamaat-shir men also torched a police outpost at Bamondanga railway station in Sunderganj.

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