Series of bombings hit Bangladesh, two killed, 138 injured
By Zafarul-Islam Khan
New Delhi, Aug 17 (The
Milli Gazette): A series of bomb blasts hit almost all parts of
Bangladesh, including several areas in the capital Dhaka today, Wednesday,
killing at least two persons including a child and wounding at least 138
others according to the Indian news
agency PTI's report from the
Bangladeshi capital. It is clear the blasts were aimed at delivering a
warning as they did not cause major damage.
The blasts, many of them targeting
government buildings and courts, went off almost simultaneously between
11:00 to 11:30 AM Bangladesh local time, leading to a nationwide security
alert and flight of people from affected areas.
Bombs exploded in Dhaka's
diplomatic area, near Sheraton Hotel and outside Dhaka airport. The
explosions, 400 in number according to the PTI report, rocked 58 of
Bangladesh's 64 districts.
Although officials did not say what
kind of bombs exploded today, Bangladesh private TV footage showed
batteries strapped together in plastic bags.
Police in the city of Chittagong
arrested two men two men carrying crude homemade bombs and firecrackers.
Two other suspects were picked up elsewhere in the same city.
According Bangladesh private
satellite TV, at least 45 people were arrested from different locations
across the country.
State Minister for Home Affairs
Lutfuzzaman Babar said the blasts appeared to be "pre-planned and
well organised" but he did not blame any individual or group.
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, a banned
organisation, reportedly said the blasts were its "third call"
to establish rule of Islamic law in the country. "If ignored and (if)
our people are arrested or persecuted, Jaamat-ul-Mujahideen will take the
counter-action," leaflets found near blast sites said.
A police official in Barisal
claimed that leaflets had been found there reading: "Bush and Blair
be warned and get out of Muslim countries. Your days of ruling Muslim
countries are over."
The leaflets reportedly warned the
US and Britain against occupation of Muslim lands: "It is also to
warn Bush and Blair to vacate Muslim countries, or to face Muslem
Bangladesh had banned
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen along with Jagrata Moslem Janata Bangladesh last
February. Bangladesh is world's third most populous Muslim country with
140 million people.
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen is led by the
so-called "Bangla Bhai" who is on the run since his group was
banned. His spiritual leader is said to be a Rajshahi University Professor
Mohamamd Galib, who is now in jail on bombing charges.
Reports are coming only from
foreign correspondents based in Dhaka. A search on the Net showed that
with the exception of one, all Bangladeshi English-language newspaper
websites blacked out reports of these unprecedented events even by
Political parties, including the
ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the main opposition Awami
[Peoples] League, held separate protest rallies and vowed to resist
extremism. Students of the Dhaka University staged protest on the campus.
Bangladesh has been hit by a number
of bombings over the past two years, including one in which the British
High Commission was injured on 21 May 2004. Early this year, militants
killed former Bangladesh finance minister S.A.M.S. Kibria, sparking
protests by opposition parties against violence in the region inspired by
In another carnage last November,
the former prime minister Sheikh Hasina herself was injured. None of these
bomb explosions cases has been resolved to this day despite serious effort
by the government, with the help of the FBI and Interpol.
A Time magazine report in
October 2002 had claimed that Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements had relocated
to Bangladesh after the American invasion.
India has consistently warned that
Bangladesh is slowly turning into an Islamic terrorist base. India has its
own axe to grind: to coerce Dhaka into taking military action against
Indian dissidents and rebels sheltering on the Bangladeshi soil. India has
succeeded in prompting Bhutan to drive away Indian rebels from its soil.
Burma too has undertaken a similar exercise on a limited scale while Dhaka
has consistently refused to play ball claiming that there are no Indian
rebels on its soil.
India was quick to express strong
concern at the explosions today. It expressed its sympathies for the
victims and their families. India's external affairs ministry spokesman
Navtej Sarna said this evening: "The scale and coordination of these
explosions countrywide raises a number of questions." He did not
Violence at this level has raised
questions about security in Bangladesh which is to host South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in three months time.
Last February the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh had opted out of the SAARC summit in Dhaka citing
disturbances in Bangladesh and the royal takeover in Nepal, forcing
Bangladesh to postpone the summit to November.
That Bangladesh has not taken
today's bombings very seriously is clear from the fact that Prime Minister
Khaleda Zia did not cancel her scheduled 5-day official visit to China
which started today. «
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