UPDATE: According to Reuters, two policemen and a member of a paramilitary force were among those killed in Sunday's clashes.


Clashes in the capital of Bangladesh have left at least 15 people dead and more than 50 injured after Islamic protesters fought running battles with police. Violence broke out in Dhaka on Sunday with officers forced to use stun grenades to break up a rally by the group Hefazat-e Islam. The clashes have continued into Monday across the city.

According to police, more than 200,000 protesters marched the city centre to demand the government take a more Islamic stance on domestic policy. Many of the protesters had come into Dhaka from rural villages, making their way to the city's largest mosque. However, the gathering quickly turned into a riot as shops and cars were set alight, governments building were attacked and police officers were targeted. Clashes outside the mosque saw police react to stone throwing with tear gas and rubber bullets fired from armoured vehicles.

According to the AFP, the protesters were heard chanting: "One point, one demand, atheists must be hanged." Sky News reported a protester, saying: "This government does not have faith in Allah. This is an atheist government; we will not allow them to live in Bangladesh. Muslims are brothers, we must protect Islam."

bangladesh blasphemy protest

Violence erupts on the streets of Dhaka on Sunday

Hefazat-e Islam has long-campaigned for stricter Islamic laws in Bangladesh, even though those in power maintain the country is a secular democracy. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently dismissed calls for a new blasphemy law. The protesters offered a 13-point list of demands, including a pledge to Allah in the constitution, the end to gender mixing in society and mandatory Islamic education.

The police have banned any further rallies in Dhaka to prevent a repeat of the violence. Having regained control of much of the city, including the business district of Motijheel, which saw some of the fiercest clashes, police are now looking for protesters to arrest.

A police spokesman told the AFP: "We were forced to act after they unlawfully continued the gathering at Motijheel. They attacked us with bricks, stones, rods and bamboo sticks."

Bangladesh is still reeling from a recent garment factory collapse that saw more than 600 workers killed. The search for bodies in the rubble continues, with the death toll expected to finish much higher.

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  • Bangladeshi protesters set fires on a street during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. (AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

  • Hefazat-e Islam protesters block one of the entry points to the city, Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Protesters were demanding that the Bangladesh government enact an anti-blasphemy law, but leaders in the Muslim-majority nation rejected the demand, saying the country is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

  • An injured Islamic activist is carried away during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law, in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • Islamic activists block a road in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • A policeman walks on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest by Islamic activists. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during the protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder) (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • Islamic activists block a road in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • Islamic activists, right side, block a road in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • Islamic activists block a road in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • A security guard walks near ATM machines damaged by Islamic hardliners in Savar near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, May 6, 2013. At least 15 people died in clashes Monday between police and Islamic hardliners demanding that Bangladesh implement an anti-blasphemy law, police said. (AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

  • A policeman walks on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest by Islamic activists. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during the protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • A policeman walks on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest by Islamic activists. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during the protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Burnt out government vechiles are parked following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A policeman reacts during a protest by Islamic activists in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during the protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • Policemen aim at protesters on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest by Islamic activists. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during the protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws.(AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel stand guard following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Burnt out government vechiles are parked following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel stand guard following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Bangladeshi people look at burnt religious literature including the Holy Quran at shops near the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Burnt religious literature including the Holy Quran is seen at shops near the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    A Bangladeshi man extinguishes a blaze at a building near the premises of the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    A Bangladeshi man cleans the premises of the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Bangladeshi people look at burnt religious literature including the Holy Quran at shops near the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Smoke wafts from a building near the premises of the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Islamic activist is caught by a policeman during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law, in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-RELIGION-BLASPHEMY

    Bangladeshi people look at burnt religious literature including the Holy Quran at shops near the national mosque Baitul Mukarram following a clash between police and Islamists, in Dhaka on May 6, 2013. At least 22 people were killed as Bangladeshi police fought pitched battles with tens of thousands of hardline Islamists in the capital Dhaka, police and medical officials said Monday. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Islamic activists, right side, block a road in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws. (AP Photo/Rahul Talukder)

  • Bangladeshi policemen walk past a burning barricade set by protesters during a demonstration in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Bangladesh security forces fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday, during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. (AP Photo/Khurshed Rinku)

  • Bangladeshi protesters throw stones at policemen during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. (AP Photo/Ashraful Alam Tito)

  • Bangladeshi protesters set fire on a street during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. (AP Photo/Palash Khan)

  • Bangladeshi activists from Hefatjat-e-Islam, a newly formed group, set a police jeep on fire during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law. (AP Photo/Ashraful Alam Tito)