Bangladesh hangs Islamist leader for 1971 war crimes

DHAKA (REUTERS) - Bangladesh hanged Islamist opposition leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman on Saturday for war crimes committed during the 1971 war to break away from Pakistan, a move that risks an angry reaction from his supporters who called for a general strike.

Kamaruzzaman, 63, of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide and torture of civilians during the conflict.

He refused to beg for a pardon from the president.

The acting head of Jamaat-e-Islami, Maqbul Ahmed, said in a statement: "The government, in a very planned way, killed him in political revenge."

The party declared Sunday as a "prayer day" for Kamaruzzaman and peace and called for a general strike on Monday.

The Border Guard Bangladesh paramilitary force has been deployed across the country to stem any sign of protest.

On Saturday, security was beefed up around the prison. All roads leading there were closed and security forces were patrolling in the capital.

Supporters of the sentence were soon out hailing the execution, with the Gana Jagaron Moncha youth movement chanting slogans against those they brand war criminals and demanding they too face death.