Dhaka: Bangladesh's fundamentalist party (JI) on Tuesday called for a nationwide strike to mount pressures on the government to free their top brass who are being tried for 1971 war crimes.
    
Police said extra security vigil was ordered as the JI activists tried to set on fire several buses early today apparently to frighten transport operators and force people to stay indoors.
    
"We will not tolerate any attempt to create law and order situation in the name of hartal," a police spokesman told.
    
Elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police in riot cars are keeping a tight vigil.
    
Witnesses and reports said JI activists in small groups suddenly took to the street at Karwan Bazaar and few other areas in the capital and vandalised at least two buses and set fire to tyres early in the morning.
    
"The activists quickly fled the scene before the police could intervene," a photojournalist who witnessed the incident at Karwan Bazaar said.
    
Witnesses said the activists also pelted stones on a US embassy vehicle but the embassy officials declined to comment.
    
Police said they detained some 15 pickets for vandalism in the capital while reports of brief clashes were reported from eastern Brahmanbaria district where the activists set on fire a police van and northwestern Rajshahi. They also exploded crude bombs.
    
Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) extended its "moral support" to the nationwide shutdown called by their crucial ally in the 18-party alliance.
    
Political analysts view JI's call for strike as a show of strength while ruling Awami League said the party became "desperate to save their war criminal" leaders and urged the people to get united against attempts to upset their trial which appeared to have reached at its fag end.
    
"Jamaat-e-Islami has been carrying out guerrilla style attacks on law enforcers only to protect their leaders from facing the trial. We hope the verdict (against the suspected war criminals) will start coming by the end of the month", Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam.
    
JI was opposed to Bangladesh's 1971 independence while eight stalwarts of the party including its incumbent chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and former chief Ghulam Azam are facing trial as "perpetrators of crimes against humanity" during the Liberation War siding with the Pakistani troops.

(Agencies)

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