World Bulletin/News Desk
At least 20 Bangladeshis were killed on Monday in clashes between police and protesters demanding religious reforms, as protests spread beyond the capital Dhaka to other parts of the country.
Two policemen and a member of a paramilitary force were among the 13 people killed in the capital, said police official Shah Mohammad Manzur Kader.
Five more died in the southeastern city of Chittagong after police opened fire on protesters attacking their station and two were killed in Bagerhat in the south.
On Sunday, four people were killed and hundreds injured in the clashes, according to hospital officials.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all sides to end the violence and express their views peacefully.
"The Secretary-General urges political and religious leaders to engage in constructive dialogue and help defuse the tensions," he said in a statement.
The protests are led by a group called Hefajat-e-Islam, which set the government a May 5 deadline to introduce a new blasphemy law, reinstate pledges to Allah in the constitution, ban women from mixing freely with men and make Islamic education mandatory.
The government of the overwhelming Muslim country has rejected the demands.
Bangladesh has been rocked by protests and counter-protests since January, when a tribunal set up by the government to investigate abuses during a 1971 war of independence from Pakistan sentenced to death in absentia a leader of the main Muslim party, the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Jamaat denies accusations that some of its leaders committed crimes during the conflict.
The Hefajat-e-Islam emerged from the protests over the tribunal.
More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes this year, most of them party activists and members of the security forces.
Last Mod: 07 Mayıs 2013, 11:17