High alert: Security personnel from Border Guard Bangladesh patrol the city following the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah.

High alert: Security personnel from Border Guard Bangladesh patrol the city following the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah. Photo: AP

Dhaka, Bangladesh: At least 10 people are dead, children have been shot in the street, and hundreds of cars, businesses and homes have been torched, as violent protests seized Bangladesh following the execution of an Islamist leader found guilty of war crimes.

Devastated: A man cries after Jamaat-e-Islami party activists torched his vehicle.

Devastated: A man cries after Jamaat-e-Islami party activists torched his vehicle. Photo: Reuters

The country remains braced for a new wave of violence, with a nationwide "hartal", or strike, called for Sunday.

The outbreak of violence comes less than a month before national elections are due, and just a day before Bangladesh’s "Victory Day", a celebration of its defeat of Pakistan in its war of independence 42 years ago.

On Thursday night, Abdul Quader Molla, a leader of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged in a Dhaka prison, having been convicted by Bangladesh’s contentious war crimes tribunal.

Victim: A boy lies on the ground after being injured by rubber bullets fired by police during clashes between Jamaat-e-Islami activists and police in Dhaka.

Victim: A boy lies on the ground after being injured by rubber bullets fired by police during clashes between Jamaat-e-Islami activists and police in Dhaka. Photo: Reuters

Molla was found guilty of rape, murder and mass murder for having been a leader of a pro-Pakistan militia that fought against Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, co-ordinating a campaign of systemic killing of Bangladeshi intellectuals, doctors, lawyers and journalists.

Molla is the first convicted war criminal executed in Bangladesh and was widely regarded as one of the most culpable of the "collaborators" who supported Pakistan during the Independence War.

He was convicted of beheading a poet, raping an 11-year-old girl and shooting 344 unarmed Bengali civilians.

But his trial was grossly unjust, international observers said. He was initially acquitted, but the government changed the laws to allow the prosecution to appeal. Molla was then denied an appeal of his conviction and sentence. There have been concerns too, throughout months of hearings, about the independence of judges, and of government influence on the tribunal.

Molla and the Jamaat party are allied with the main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Observers say the Awami League-led government is pursuing war crimes convictions now to disgrace its political opponents, even to execute some of them.

Bangladesh is due to hold national elections on January 5, but these look increasingly unlikely to take place, and the chance of all parties participating appears almost nil.

Jamaat called Molla’s execution a “political murder” and has warned it would exact revenge for “each drop” of his blood.

Already, ahead of Sunday’s hartal, Jamaat-led violence has paralysed the country.

Two Awami League activists were hacked to death in street clashes, while a Jamaat leader allegedly died in police custody. A government minister had his house torched in the country’s north-west.

Police stations have been ransacked and razed, highways blocked with flaming barricades, and train tracks have been ripped up.

Bangladesh media showed graphic images of a stricken 11-year-old Shanto Islam who was sent out to fetch lunch for his family when he became caught between clashing Jamaat supporters and police.

He was hit by police firing rubber bullets at protesters.

Taken to hospital in a critical condition, doctors found 73 pellets in Shanto’s head and back.

“My son lay in a pool of blood for around 20 minutes before he was rescued … that too by another child. No one else dared to save my boy,” Shanto’s mother Asma told local reporters.

Earlier, two 14-year-olds were killed by rubber bullet fire in Chandpur.

Protesters also tried to set fire to the house of a war crimes tribunal judge, and bombs were set off at one of Dhaka’s largest mosques.