DHAKA  - Protesters from Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party clashed with security forces in cities across the country on Tuesday in violence that has left one dead, police said.

Jamaat-e-Islami called a strike on Tuesday to protest against the arrest and trial of its leaders, who face charges of war crimes during the country’s 1971 liberation struggle.

An 18-year-old youth was shot dead on Monday night during clashes in the northern town of Chirirbandar, 300 kilometres from the capital Dhaka, and unrest spread to other cities on Tuesday.

Jamaat supporters torched and damaged about 20 vehicles including a car belonging to the US Embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday and 69 people were detained on charges of violence, police said.

“Jamaat activists hurled bricks at a US Embassy car which was coming from the airport after dropping a foreigner. Its glasses were smashed. They also tried to torch the car,” police sub-inspector Abu Saleh told AFP.

In a statement posted in the party’s website Jamaat’s acting secretary general Shafiqur Rahman said ‘sorry’ for the incident saying they were ready to pay compensation for the damaged car and to the injured driver.

Violence was also reported in the eastern town of Brahmanbaria and in the cities of Sylhet, Rajshahi and Narayanganj.

The dead 18-year-old was admitted to hospital on Monday with a gunshot wound to the head after a demonstration at which police admitted firing live ammunition to control the crowd, hospital and police sources said.

“We fired seven rounds of live bullets, rubber bullets and tear gas shells,” local police chief Tariqul Islam told AFP, saying that the cause of the activist’s death was unclear.

Shihidul Islam, a nurse at Rangpur Medical College Hospital, said the activist died as he was brought to the clinic. “He has a bullet shot in his head,” he told AFP.

The government blames Jamaat for much of the killing in the bloody nine-month war against Pakistan, in which it says about three million people died.

But the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), created in 2010 to try war crimes suspects, has been widely criticised as being a political tool for the ruling Awami League government to target its opponents.