22 dead as Bangladesh Islamists demand blasphemy law

At least 22 people have been killed after police clashed with thousands of Islamists demanding a new blasphemy law in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said on Monday.

The bodies of 11 victims, including a policeman, were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mozammel Haq, a police inspector based at the hospital, told AFP. Officials at three private clinics in the capital confirmed that they had received the bodies of 11 other victims.

Bangladesh’s police and paramilitary troops overnight dispersed a huge demonstration by thousands of Islamist protesters after violent clashes in Dhaka.

The newly-floated Hefazat-e-Islam or “Protectorate of Islam” enforced their “Dhaka siege” programme to mount pressure on the secular Awami League-led government to implement their 13-point demand, including the enactment of a blasphemy law to punish those who insult Islam and the Prophet.

At least 15 crude bombs were exploded in front of the ruling Awami League’s headquarters at the Bangabandhu Avenue when several Hifazat processions were heading towards Motijheel to join the group’s rally.

Clashes soon erupted at the Bangabandhu Avenue and quickly spread to surrounding areas.

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