DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Clashes between Bangladeshi police and activists supporting a major Islamic opposition political party left one person dead and about 20 injured Wednesday on the second day of a nationwide general strike, television stations reported.
Police used night sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets as dozens of protesters belonging to the Jamaat-e-Islami party tried to march into the streets of Dhaka's southern Jatrabari suburb, according to Dhaka's Somoy TV and RTV.
Media reports said the dead man was a local leader of the Islamic party's student wing, but local police chief Rafiqul Islam told The Associated Press that he was yet to be identified.
Islam also denied reports that the man died of injuries caused by police, saying he died when he fled from police, fell and hit his head on a parked car.
"We are no way responsible for this. They attacked police, blasted homemade bombs targeting us, so we had to fire rubber bullets in self-defense," he said. "He is unlucky that he lost balance when fleeing and hit a roadside vehicle."
On Tuesday, opposition activists set off crude bombs, blocked roads and burned vehicles to enforce a 48-hour nationwide general strike, injuring dozens of people.
The party — the country's largest Islamic party — called the strike to denounce a court decision that its registration with the Election Commission is invalid.
A High Court panel ruled Aug. 1 that the party's regulations violate the constitutional provision of secularism by saying it wants to impose Shariah, or Islamic law. Because of the court decision, the party could be barred from taking part in the next elections.
At least 20 people were injured Tuesday after police fired rubber bullets to disperse dozens of protesters who tried to block a highway in Meherpur district, 175 kilometers (110 miles) west of Dhaka, television station ETV reported. Another 30 people were injured as homemade bombs went off in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, the station said.
The ruling against Jamaat came amid calls to ban the party for opposing the country's 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
Five party leaders have been sentenced to either death or life imprisonment for crimes against humanity linked to the independence war. Several others, including party chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, are standing trial on charges of war crimes stemming from the 1971 war.