Top Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, including its chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, were arrested on Tuesday .

Both Nizami and Mojaheed were senior Ministers in the previous Khaleda Zia government's Cabinet (2001-2006) and key leaders of the opposition BNP-led four-party alliance.

Nizami was detained when he emerged from a Dhaka conference, prompting scuffles between supporters and police, witnesses said. No one was injured.

Police later cordoned off Jamaat's central office, they said.

Police also arrested the party's vice-president, Delwar Husain Sayedee. All three were detained on charges of hurting religious sentiments. They are also war crimes suspects for their role during the country's independence war against Pakistan.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate ordered the arrests, including that of the party's Dhaka city unit chief Rafiqul Islam Khan, as they had failed to comply with summonses asking them to appear on Tuesday.

A religious leader, Syed Rejaul Haque Chandpuri, secretary general of the Bangladesh Tarikat Federation, filed the case on March 21 with a Metropolitan Magistrate's court in Dhaka against five Jamaat leaders.

The Jamaat-e-Islami condemned the arrests and said it would issue a formal complaint.

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