22 dead as Bangladesh Islamic groups demand blasphemy law

ET: DHAKA: At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitch battles with tens of thousands of hardline protesters in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday.

Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said police used sound grenades, water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse at least 70,000 protesters who were camped at a key commercial district in a push for a new blasphemy law.

“We were forced to act after they unlawfully continued their gathering at Motijheel. They attacked us with bricks, stones, rods and bamboo sticks,” he told AFP, adding that the protesters had dispersed early Monday morning.

Police inspector Mozammel Haq at Dhaka Medical College Hospital told AFP 11 bodies were taken to the clinic including several who were hit by bullets and a policeman who had been hacked in the head by protesters with machetes.

Eleven other bodies were taken to three clinics including four at al Baraka and seven at two branches of Islami Bank hospitals which are based close to the trouble spots.

Hospital officials said hundreds of people were injured.

The violence erupted Sunday afternoon and continued through until the early hours of Monday morning.

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