Protests Follow Bangladesh Opposition Leader's Execution

Islamist activists in Bangladesh torched homes and shops Friday to protest the execution of one of their leaders convicted of war crimes.

Abdul Qader Mollah was hanged late Thursday, after the Supreme Court rejected his last-minute appeal.

Shortly afterwards, Bangladeshi media reported a series of arson attacks and clashes between police and Islamist protesters, leaving at least three people dead.

Many of the attacks were reported to be on ruling party supporters and minority Hindus, many of whom side with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and have praised the execution.

A VOA reporter in the capital city Dhaka said Thursday there was heavy security in the city as the situation remained tense. Mollah's party, Jamaat-e-Islami, has called for a nationwide general strike for Sunday.

Mollah was convicted of committing war crimes during the nation's war of independence against Pakistan in 1971. Critics fear his execution could begin a fresh wave of political violence before national elections set for next month.

Earlier, Jamaat-e-Islami had issued a statement warning of "dire consequences" if he were executed.

The court turned down a request for a review of the death penalty by Mollah's legal team. He was set to be hanged late Tuesday before his lawyers secured a postponement.

New York based Human Rights Watch warned that by executing Mollah without reviewing the death sentence, Bangladesh could be breaking international law.

Jamaat-e-Islami sided with the Pakistan army during a bloody civil war that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League party says three million people died in the war. Independent researchers put the death toll between 300,000 to 500,000.