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

Witness Account
When all hell broke loose

"All hell broke loose there, they made it look like doomsday," recalls Motaher Hossain, general secretary of the Krishak League, who was standing barely a yard from the dais raised on a truck when indiscriminate bombs and gunshots rocked the area.

"I scanned the area and saw some people on the rooftop of Ramna Hotel and adjacent buildings hurling bombs," he said sitting on a bed in ward No. 32 of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) with splinters in his whole body.

"Bombs, from probably under (Hasina's) truck, went off one after another and my only thought was to get out of this hell," he said.

"It was a few seconds before we were to take out a procession after the meeting when a number of grenades exploded near the dais," Kazi Mustak Elen, city Awami League (AL) organising secretary, said.

Ajay Kor Khokon, former general secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), AL's student wing, said, "The way the bombs were hurled, it is clear to me our netri (leader) was the target."

"The grenades were powerful and I think only the army uses those," he said as he was being taken to the DMCH.

AL activists Hafiz and Saidul of Hazaribagh had no idea about how the incident took place.

"What I can remember is the sudden start of continuous firing and bomb blasts and that I tried to escape," Hafiz told The Daly Star. "But it was like a movie scene," concluded Hafiz, still in a daze.

BCL activists Monir and Dollar said they saw two men in khakis standing a few yards off the dais. They were speaking in low voice and looking up to Ramna Hotel nervously minutes before the attack.

"But I did not see them after the first grenade blasted," said Monir.

"It was not more than three seconds after Hasina finished her speech when a grenade blasted within two yards of the dais and a 'grenade rain' followed that," said Sub-Inspector Mosharraf Hossain, leader of a six-member security team of Hasina.

"I saw seven to eight people throwing grenades from the roof of the building opposite the AL office. The grenades were red in colour," he said.

"As I fired at them, constable Rokon of my team was hit by splinters and he turned over his arms to me."

The assailants later fired on the people running for cover, Mosharraf said. "All we heard is nothing but continuous sounds of gunshots and grenade blasts and people's scream," he continued.

A man who has just witnessed the carnage wails in angst. PHOTO: STAR