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Bangladesh: five dead in a clash between police and hardline Islamist protestors against a visit by Indian PM

Thousands of people demonstrated in Bangladesh on Saturday, a day after clashes between police and hardline Islamist protestors against a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi left five dead.

The violence, which began Friday at the main mosque in the capital Dhaka, rocked several key districts in the Muslim-majority nation of 168 million, leaving scores injured.

A spokesman for the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), which also acts as a reserve paramilitary force for law and order, said it had deployed troops since Friday night, without disclosing the numbers involved.

Authorities also appeared to have restricted access to Facebook after images and reports of Friday’s violence were shared on the social media site.

But on Saturday, thousands turned out to protest against police having opened fire and against Modi’s visit for independence day celebrations, following calls for nationwide demonstrations from Hefazat-e-Islam, the country’s largest hardline Islamist outfit.

Several thousand supporters of Hefazat staged protests at Hathazari, a rural town outside the country’s second largest city which witnessed the worst violence on Friday when four protesters were shot dead.

Hefazat spokesman Jakaria Noman Foyezi told AFP that around 10,000 students of Hathazari Madrasa, a religious college, were on the road blocking a key highway linking the port city with the country’s hill districts.

Ruhul Amin, the government administrator of the town, said Hefazat supporters put up makeshift walls and dug up the road to block traffic, but that there was no violence.

Mohammad Jahangir, a senior Chittagong police officer, said border guards, police and the elite Rapid Action Battalion have been deployed to the town.

In the northern district town of Habiganj, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at some 200 protesters from the main opposition party, police inspector Syedul Mostafa told AFP.

“They became unruly and pelted rocks at us. We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them. We have arrested 10 people for violence,” he said.

The Manabjamin newspaper said at least 50 people were injured.

Local media also reported clashes at Gazipur, just north of Dhaka.

In the capital itself, hundreds of Islamists gathered at the Baitul Mukarram Masjid, the country’s biggest mosque.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said the protesters, who chanted slogans against Modi, were Hefazat supporters.

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