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Dozens injured as minority Ahmadis come under attack in Bangladesh

Clashes erupt after days of tension over a planned convention of the religious minority in the town of Ahmadnagar. Sunni Muslim groups demanded the event be cancelled.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at hundreds of protestors who attacked minority community members in northern Bangladesh, leaving at least 25 people injured, officials said on Wednesday.

The clashes erupted on Tuesday night after days of tensions over a planned convention of the minority Ahmadi community in the town of Ahmadnagar. Sunni Muslims, who are a majority, demanded the event be cancelled.

Many Muslims in the South Asian sub-continent do not consider the Ahmadis to be Muslim and have called for them to be declared non-Muslims.

The 100,000 Ahmadis in Bangladesh have faced repeated attacks and are often barred from establishing mosques. The community is declared as non-Muslims in Pakistan where it has been subjected to vigilante violence.

Police said several groups have been holding protests against the Ahmadis’ local convention, scheduled to start in just over a week.

“Some 700-800 men wielding sticks and batons marched towards Ahmadnagar and clashed with the Ahmadis,” local police chief Abu Akkas said.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to “maintain law and order”, Akkas said. At least 20 police and five Ahmadis were injured, he added.

Local Ahmadi spokesman Ahmad Tabshir Choudhury said at least seven Ahmadis were injured; three critically.

The last few decades have seen a number of attacks targeting Ahmadis in Bangladesh.

In 1999, a bomb ripped through an Ahmadi mosque in the southern city of Khulna, killing at least eight worshippers.

In 2015 a suicide blast by a suspected militant at an Ahmadi mosque in the northwestern town of Bagmara wounded three people.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, but the authorities blamed the homegrown militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which is accused of killing scores of religious minorities including Hindus, Christians, Sufi Muslims and Shias.

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