At least four people were killed in the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong after police fired at protesters during a demonstration against a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We had to fire teargas and rubber bullets to disperse them as they entered a police station and carried out extensive vandalism,” Rafiqul Islam, a police official, said, referring to protesters.
Modi is in Bangladesh to attend its Golden Jubilee celebrations of independence and the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country’s founder and father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
It was the latest in a series of protests held across the country to oppose Modi’s visit, who many Bangladeshis accuse of stoking religious tensions and persecuting Muslims in India.
The protesters in Chittagong were from the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, an Islamist group opposed to the visit of Modi, who critics say has been pushing a Hindu-first agenda in India.
Mohammad Alauddin, another police official in Chittagong, said that eight people were brought to a hospital in the city with gunshot wounds, of which four succumbed to their injuries
Protests at the main mosque in the city of Dhaka were dispersed by police using tear gas and rubber bullets – injuring scores of people – after clashes broke out between groups of demonstrators, officials and witnesses said on Friday.
Hundreds of protesters had gathered outside Dhaka’s Baitul Mokarram mosque after the Friday prayers. Witnesses said violent clashes broke out after one faction of protesters began waving their shoes as a sign of disrespect to Modi, and another group tried to stop them.
Local media said the protesters who tried to stop the shoe-waving are aligned with the governing Awami League party, which criticised the other protest faction for attempting to create chaos during Modi’s visit.
Local TV showed protesters throwing stones at the police, who were heavily present on the streets near the mosque. Somoy TV reported that at least 40 people were injured, including journalists, and were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.
Modi’s two-day tour – his first abroad since the coronavirus pandemic began last year – will cap Dhaka’s 10-day celebrations already attended by leaders from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives.