Vol. 5 Num 437 Thu. August 18, 2005  
Front Page

How all hell broke loose
Eyewitnesses narrate the terror strike

Yesterday's near-simultaneous countrywide bomb blasts left a great many people -- from beggars to lawyers -- severely injured, petrified and shocked from such a close proximity to death.

In the capital the bombs went off between 11 and 11:30am, and in most cases someone brought and placed them at the target points a few minutes before the explosions, witnesses and victims, some of them lying on hospital beds with bandaged limbs, told the press.

While narrating their trauma and pains, they said, in some cases, the explosions came out of the blue when people unwittingly picked up packets of explosives from the ground, taking them to be lost or fallen objects.

"A bearded youth of around 18, clad in a long panjabi [robe], asked me to look after a bag he was leaving beside the bus counters between the Secretariat and the press club," recalled Malek, a roadside shopkeeper. He said, "A minute after he had left the place, the bomb boomed."

All of a sudden, Malek said, the place turned into a hell, as people started to run for their lives.

Moniruzzaman Monir, 25, who works at a plastic commodities manufacturing company in Old Dhaka, said, "I was walking along a footpath at Palashi crossroads at around 11:15am, when I heard a huge explosion that made me deaf."

The bomb was planted under a bench at a roadside tea-stall, said Monir, who suffered arm and leg injuries.

In another incident, private car driver Russel said, he was sitting idle in front of the Supreme Court building when a bomb exploded under a coconut tree, wounding another car driver, Khairul Islam Khasru, in his arms and the back.

Another victim, Masum Ahmed, 25, said he was walking along the footpath beside Dhaka Sheraton Hotel at 11:25am, when suddenly a bomb went off. "I didn't even notice the pack lying on the footpath," said Masum, who was admitted to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital with wounded arms and legs.

The police yesterday arrested Ruhul Amin after a bomb had banged in a pack he was holding in his hands at a place between Bangla Motors and Hotel Sonargaon intersection.

A street urchin named Delwar, son of late Abu Bakar Siddique of Noakhali, was groaning in pain on the floor of Chittagong Medical College and Hospital's (CMCH) Casualty Unit. Both his legs were lacerated by splinters of a bomb that went off at GEC intersection in the port city at around 9:45am.

"I had been begging from passers-by standing on a traffic island at GEC intersection from 9:30am. Suddenly, there appeared another street urchin slightly older than me. He drew my attention to an object lying a few yards away on the ground and asked me to pick it up," Delwar told The Daily Star in near whispers.

"As soon as I lifted the thing wrapped with thick paper, it went off with a stunning boom. I fell to the ground and remained unconsciousness for a few seconds. When I regained consciousness, I discovered both my legs were bleeding," the unlucky boy went on.

He said the explosion also injured another man aged about 25 to 30, "who had pulled up his motorbike there and was talking over a cellphone."

An explosion at Kazir Dewri crossroads at around 10:30am wounded Abdul Hye, 32, son of Ayub Ali of Dharmapur village under Fatikchhari Upazila. He came there to see one of his friends, a shopkeeper.

Hye too was admitted to the CMCH Casualty Unit with his face and body badly cut by splinters. He said, "I was crossing the road when the bomb went off and I fell down."

Although the injuries to his body were not severe, his eyes probably have suffered a damage, said the doctor on duty, Jahid Hasan.

At around 11.15am, a bomb blew off in the ground floor corridor of Chittagong Court Building, only five-feet off the court of Metropolitan Magistrate M Akram Hossain, prompting him to postpone his court's proceedings immediately. The lawyers, litigants and visitors ran fast for safety.

"I was conducting the court. All of a sudden, I heard a big bang. I left my seat and looked through the door at the source of the blast. I saw another live bomb and some sandals lying about on the spot. The bomb went off very close to a tea-stall in the corridor, but I didn't see the stall-owner after the explosion," the magistrate described to The Daily Star.

The police later searched the entire court building and recovered three live bombs from there.

Nazmul Hassan Rubel, a third-year student of English at Jahangirnagar University, said, "I was standing some 10 to 15 feet away from the spot, where a bomb exploded at Savar, rocking the surrounding area. I saw smoke emitting from the site."

The bomb was wrapped with black tape and connected with red and black wires to a switch wrapped with red tape, Rubel described.

"From the description, it seems to be a remote-controlled bomb, exploded from a safe distance," observed Major Hasan, terrorism expert of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI).

According to the major, "This type of explosives is called improvised explosive device, IED in short, which can be made at home using sulphuric acid, sulphur, Harpic (a toilet cleaner) and some other chemicals easily available in the retail market."

In Rangamati, 5-year-old Monir Hossain was critically injured in a bomb blast. He was burned, two fingers of his right hand were blown away, and his right leg, chest and face lacerated by splinters. Monir was admitted to the local general hospital.

Witnesses said Monir belongs to an utterly poor family. Like every other day, he was rummaging through a dustbin at Chowmohani looking for things of some worth, when the bomb went off.

The police later recovered another bomb, live, from the spot.