Vol. 4 Num 348 Sat. May 22, 2004  
Front Page

Blasts rage, probes stall
140 killed across country in last 5 years

Major bomb blasts that left 140 people killed and about 1,000 injured in Bangladesh in the last five years still stand unresolved and no attackers were punished because of politicisation of probes.

The latest bomb attack that came amid scenes of law and order downslide killed two people and wounded about 70 others, including British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury and his bodyguard at Hazrat Shahjalal Shrine in Sylhet, 278 kilometres northeast of Dhaka.

It was the second blast at the shrine this year: an explosion killed five people and injured 30 others on January 12.

Although no-one claimed responsibility for the attacks, Islamic militants are believed to have carried out most of them.

State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar hinted at forming a high-powered committee to probe yesterday's explosion that prompted condemnation from different political parties.

Authorities in all times opened probes into the incidents, but most investigations stalled halfway for unknown reasons.

Intelligence agencies, suspecting militant links to some explosions, said they could not go ahead with the investigations under pressure from government high-ups.

The killing spree by bomb attacks began with an explosion at a cultural function of Udichi in Jessore on March 6, 1999, which left 10 people dead and more than 100 injured.

Seven people were killed in near-simultaneous bomb blasts at a rally of the Communist Party of Bangladesh at Paltan Maidan and near the Awami League (AL) headquarters on January 20, 2001. Before the wounds of the scars could heal, the Ramna Batamul bloodbath claimed 10 lives on April 14, 2001.

Next came the mindless killings of 10 people in a Baniyachar Church bomb attack on June 3, 2001. Barely 12 days later, an explosion at the AL office in Narayanganj killed 22 people.

Eight people were killed in an attack on Bagerhat AL rally on September 23, 2001 and three in a Satkhira cinema explosion on September 28, 2002.

Twenty-seven moviegoers were blown up in closely-timed bomb explosions in four Mymensingh cinemas on December 6, 2002.

Seven people were killed and 20 others injured in a bomb blast at a fair at a Muslim shrine in Tangail on January 17, 2003.

In each incident, the then AL government blamed the attacks on the 'fundamentalist forces' that joined hands with Bangladesh Nationalist Party. When such incidents surfaced under the coalition government, it took no time to shift the blame onto the main opposition AL.

"The practice of shifting the blame goes nowhere," said Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haq Inu.


Four people were killed in a bomb blast near an AL public meeting in Sunamganj on September 26, 2001.

Khulna region appears to have become a valley of death where about 20 people, including a dozen policemen and journalist Manik Saha, were killed in bomb attacks.