Four killed in Bangladesh clashes after Islamist leader executed

Relatives of Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah sit in a vehicle leaving Dhaka Central Jail after meeting with Mollah, in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Relatives of Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah sit in a vehicle leaving Dhaka Central Jail after meeting with Mollah, in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Hasan Jamil, son of Bangladesh war crimes convict Abdul Quader Molla, the 65-year-old senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, reacts while talking to the media after meeting with his father at a prison in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Hasan Jamil, son of Bangladesh war crimes convict Abdul Quader Molla, the 65-year-old senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, reacts while talking to the media after meeting with his father at a prison in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Police officers stand guard in front of the central jail in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Police officers stand guard in front of the central jail in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
One of a convoy of three ambulances leave the central jail in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
One of a convoy of three ambulances leave the central jail in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Bangladeshi activists march in the street with torches and shout slogans during a protest demanding the immediate execution of Bangladeshi war crimes convict Abdul Quader Molla, the 65-year-old senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Dhaka, on
Bangladeshi activists march in the street with torches and shout slogans during a protest demanding the immediate execution of Bangladeshi war crimes convict Abdul Quader Molla, the 65-year-old senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Dhaka, on Dec 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Bangladeshi firefighters extinguish a smouldering car set on fire by demonstrating Jamaat-e-Islami supporters following the execution of Abdul Quader Molla, a top Islamist leader convicted of war crimes, in Dhaka, on Dec13, 2013. At least four people
Bangladeshi firefighters extinguish a smouldering car set on fire by demonstrating Jamaat-e-Islami supporters following the execution of Abdul Quader Molla, a top Islamist leader convicted of war crimes, in Dhaka, on Dec13, 2013. At least four people were killed in Bangladesh on Friday, Dec 13, 2013, when supporters of Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah vented their fury at his execution for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. -- PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (REUTERS) - At least four people were killed in Bangladesh on Friday when supporters of Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah vented their fury at his execution for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

The decision to hang Mollah, a senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami party that is a key part of the opposition coalition, drew widespread condemnation from political allies and international human rights groups.

But many citizens celebrated the first ever execution of a Bangladesh war criminal, which took place late on Thursday at the Dhaka Central Jail in the capital.

"It is a great gift to me as person, and it is consistent with the spirit of our liberation war," writer Selina Hossain, whose family was tortured during the conflict, told Reuters.

"It is also a symbolic honour to the souls of three million martyred people."

Mollah, dubbed the "Butcher of Mirpur" in Bangladesh for his part in hundreds of killings 42 years ago, was buried in the early hours of Friday in his home village in the southern district of Faridpur.

In the latest violence, Jamaat supporters set fire to vehicles and houses, looted shops, set off crude bombs and blocked roads in several parts of the country.

Police said two Awami League activists were hacked to death in Satkhira, in the southwest, early on Friday.

One person died in clashes between police and Jamaat supporters in the southern district of Noakhali and a driver was killed after Jamaat protesters chased him down.

Mollah's execution has worsened tensions that were already running high, threatening to cripple Bangladesh's economy, notably its US$22 billion (S$28 billion) garment industry.

There has been almost daily unrest in the impoverished nation of 160 million people since last month's announcement of parliamentary elections on Jan 5.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League are determined to go ahead with the vote, but the opposition, led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) head Begum Khaleda Zia, says it will not participate unless an interim government is installed and PM Hasina steps down.

Senior leaders from the Awami League and BNP-led opposition were expected to meet later on Friday for a third round of talks to break the political deadlock.