Suicide bombing campaign in Bangladesh by Islamists - 8 killed in 10th attack this year
Suicide bomber on bicycle drives into pedestrians
Bangladesh suicide bombs kill eight
By Nizam Ahmed
DHAKA (Reuters) - A suicide bomb attack killed at least eight people in Bangladesh and wounded more than 50 on Thursday in the latest in a series of deadly blasts blamed on militants seeking Islamic rule in the country.
Police said two bombs exploded on a crowded street within the space of a few minutes during the morning rush hour in Netrokona, a town 360 km (220 miles) north of the capital Dhaka.
They said the wounded included three policemen. Many of the victims were people on their way to work at offices, colleges and markets, witnesses said.
No one claimed responsibility for the blasts, but police blamed Islamist suicide bombers fighting for the introduction of sharia law in the mainly Muslim democracy.
Police said they found a would-be suicide bomber among the wounded, with an unexploded bomb strapped to his body. He was taken to hospital unconscious, they added.
Another suicide bomber was believed to be among the dead.
"Two of the dead, including a woman, have been identified, but identities of the rest are yet to be ascertained," one police officer said.
The bombs went off near the local office of a cultural organisation, Udichi, which police believe was the target. At least one member of the group was among the dead, said a police officer.
"Definitely our activists are targets, because we try to reform the society for greater emancipation of the people," Mahmud Selim, general secretary of the national committee of Udichi, a left-leaning cultural organisation, told Reuters.
In March 1999, 10 people were killed and over 50 injured when a bomb exploded at an open-air concert organised by Udichi in western Jessore town.
Many Islamic groups dislike Udichi, which puts on open-air drama and music shows and poetry recitals. It pursues a strong secular philosophy.
TIME TO ACT
The main opposition Awami League party said Thursday's blasts were "part of a continuing scourge of radical Islamists seeking to overturn the country's democratic constitution".
Awami League General Secretary Abdul Jalil said: "It is time to act, but instead the government is playing a game by trying to politicise a deadly issue".
The government and opposition blame each other for the emergence of Islamist militancy in Bangladesh.
Thursday's deaths took the number of people killed by suspected suicide bombers to 28 in three weeks, including judges, lawyers and policemen. At least 150 people have been injured.
"We condemn the bombings and hope the Bangladesh government will be able to find and punish those responsible," said a U.S. embassy spokesman.
"We are willing to provide support to the Bangladesh law enforcing agencies as (may be) requested," he said.
Bangladesh has been hit by a wave of bomb attacks since August blamed on militants from banned groups, including Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which seeks to turn the world's third most populous Muslim country into a sharia-based Islamic state.
State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar said last month two outlawed Islamist groups -- Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh -- had set up a 2,000-strong suicide squad to press home their demands.
"We are committed to fighting and defeating the suicide bombers, as well as all other militants trying to create anarchy in the country," Babar said on Thurdsay.
Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is in Saudi Arabia attending a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference
Dhaka officials said she would be discussing with Muslim leaders the emergence of Islamist militancy in her country and ways to tackle it.
(Additional reporting by Masud Karim)
Dec 8 (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed and more than 50 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in Bangladesh on Thursday which took place during the morning rush hour on a crowded street in a district town.
Here is a chronology of major bomb attacks in the country during the last two years:
Jan 15, 2004 - A reporter for a Bengali-language newspaper is killed in a bomb attack in the southwestern town of Khulna.
May 21 - British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury is wounded by a bomb while praying at a shrine in the northeastern Sylhet town but his bodyguard and two others are killed.
Aug 21 - 23 people are killed in a bomb attack on an opposition rally in the capital Dhaka. Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed escapes with minor injuries.
Sept 5 - Two people are killed in a bomb blast outside a cinema in the northeastern city of Sylhet.
Jan 27, 2005 - A bomb blast kills four people, including former Finance Minister Shah Abu Mohammad Shamsul Kibria, at an opposition rally in the northeastern town of Laskarpur.
Feb 5 - A bomb explodes in the parking lot of the press club in the southwestern city of Khulna, killing a journalist.
Aug 17 - Some 500 small bombs, many of them targeting government buildings, go off across Bangladesh, killing two people.
Oct 3 - Two people are killed when five bombs explode in three court buildings outside the capital Dhaka.
Nov 14 - Two judges are killed when suspected Islamic militants throw a bomb at their car in Jhalakathi, 250 km (155 miles) south of Dhaka.
Nov 29 - 11 people are killed by suspected suicide bombers in the port city of Chittagong and in Gazipur, 30 km (20 miles) north of Dhaka.
Dec 1 - A suspected suicide bomber kills two people near a court building in Gazipur.
Dec 8 - At least eight people are killed in a suicide bomb attack in Netrokona town, 360 km (220 miles) north of Dhaka.
The Interpol experts have found similarity of strategy between the suicide squad of the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Elam (LTTE), highly placed sources said yesterday.
An eight-member Interpol team came to Dhaka from Singapore on Monday night on invitation of Bangladesh government to investigate the suicide bomb attacks in Gazipur.
The expert team visited the spots- Bar Library of Gazipur Ainjibi Samity and the main gate of Deputy Commissioner's (DC's) office where the two suicide bomb attacks occurred on November 29 and December 1 respectively that killed 10 people and injured over 90.
Sources said, the team collected some 13 kinds of objects as evidence including splinters, gunpowder, pieces of blood stained flesh, wire, iron rings used in fishing net, pieces of glass, etc. They are now examining the evidences.
The team is also examining explosive to ascertain its country of origin.
After visiting the spots in Gazipur and talking with the high officials of police the team viewed that the attacking strategy of the suicide squad of the banned Islamic militant outfit JMB was similar to that of LTTE.
Four members of intelligence and the law enforcing agencies held meeting with the expert team at a five star hotel in the capital yesterday to discuss the suicide bomb attacks in Gazipur, Chittagong and Jhalakathi, sources added. The Interpol team went to Chittagong later on the day.
Meanwhile, the mastermind of the Gazipur suicide bomb attacks Enayetullah alias Jewel disclosed that Abdul Awal, son-in-law of the chief of JMB Shaikh Abdur Rahman gave him money for carrying out suicide bomb attacks.
Jewel along with his wife Swapna, 19, was arrested by police early Monday with bomb-making materials from their rented residence at Telipara in Gazipur in connection with the Gazipur blasts that left 10 people killed.
During the interrogation Jewel told that Abdul Awal, one of the members of Majlish-e-Sura of JMB visited Gazipur two months ago and gave him money and necessary instruction to carry out suicide bombings at five spots in Dhaka and 12 spots in Gazipur, sources said.
Awal introduced Jewel with a man who supplied him explosive to produce bomb, sources added. But he declined to disclose his name.
Police found a written plan from Jewel's possession for carrying out the suicide attacks on the seventeen spots in Dhaka and Gazipur.
Jewel, commander of Gazipur district and a bomb-making expert, told the police that he had planned to carry out suicide bombings at five spots in Dhaka which include Bangladesh Secretariat, High Court, Judge's Court, Dhaka University and in a rally at Paltan Maidan.
The suicide squad of JMB, in the guise of either hawkers or students or government officials, also planned to attack Mint, National University, Open University, SP's office and MP's office in Gazipur district.
Jewel also stated that there are at least 70 to 80 bomb-making experts in JMB but he knew 12 persons of them, sources said adding that he (Jewel) also disclosed their names during the interrogation.
Several teams of police are conducting raids in Gazipur and its adjoining areas to nab the JMB suicide squad members who are now staying in the areas, police sources said.
Additional forces including RAB were deployed at Key Point installations (KPIs) including the bus and launch terminals at Sadarghat, Gabtali, Mahakhali and Sayedabad, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, High Court, Judge's Court to avoid any untoward incident.
Sadarghat launch terminal was brought under strict surveillance from Wednesday morning as there is information that the JMB cadres may carry out suicide bombings in the terminal, sources added.