Vol. 5 Num 87 Sun. August 22, 2004  
Front Page

City heart goes up in flames

It was a scene of tears, protests, chaos and confusion. Some were crying standing by the injured, some torched vehicles in protest and some tried to pick their way out of the clouds of smoke and dust.

The heart of Dhaka including Bangabandhu Avenue, the scene of a series of near-simultaneous bomb explosions in a rally of the Awami League (AL), matched the set for a post-apocalyptic movie in the wake of the attacks yesterday evening.

The Bangabandhu Avenue headquarters of the main opposition reverberated with the sobs of the leaders and workers of the party. Some of the injured groaned sitting on congealed blood as fellow activists attended to them. Some whisked the injured to hospitals by rickshaw, motorcycle or even carts while some stared at the scene with utter disbelief.

Angry protesters torched and threw stones to vehicles chanting slogans against the attackers. Thick black smoke soon mushroomed from about 20 burnt vehicles in Bijoynagar, Purana Paltan Crossing, Dainik Bangla Intersection, Zero Point, Bangabandhu Avenue, Golap Shah Majar, General Post Office and Gulistan areas.

The burnt and damaged vehicles included two double-deckers including a Volvo bus, private cars and motorcycles. Angry people also smashed windows of more than 200 vehicles in the city heart and other parts of Dhaka, spreading panic among the common man.

Some tried to run away from their attacked vehicles, but were caught in the run of confusion as hundreds of stranded vehicles closed all roads.

The roads and streets on Bangabandhu Avenue and in Gulistan, Motijheel, Shapla Chattar, Purana Paltan, Bijoynagar and Zero Point were littered with broken glass.

Police fired scores of teargas canisters and charged baton to bring the situation under control. Paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles were deployed on Bangabandhu Avenue at about 7:15pm.

Thousands of commuters landed in the middle of nowhere at the end of office hours as the city of over one billion people lurched to a halt amid reining uncertainty.

A passenger bus and a private car collided head-on sandwiching a youth at Dainik Bangla Intersection at about 5:50pm, as the panicked drivers tried to flee from the area.

All the shops, shopping centres and businesses shuttered down soon after the news of the attack spread.

Our Chittagong correspondent adds: Thousands of AL supporters went on the rampage and damaged over 100 vehicles in different places soon after the news of bomb attack on the party's Dhaka rally reached the prime port city.

Police and witnesses said the agitators torched and damaged vehicles on the City College Road, New Market, Darul Fazal Market, Station Road, Anderkilla, GEC Crossing and Agrabad.

Riot police were deployed on important city roads to restore order.

A bus set on fire by an angry mob. PHOTO: STAR