| A policeman removes a pair of slippers from the scene of the blast in Netrokona, Bangladesh, and (below) a man holds the identity card of a boy who was killed in the suicide attack in Baghdad. (Reuters, AFP)
Dhaka, Dec. 8: A man on a cycle rode into a crowd watching police defuse another bomb and blew himself up in Netrokona, northern Bangladesh, killing seven people, police said.
Four people, including the bomber, were killed on the spot and four others died on their way to the hospital or after arriving there, police said.
No one claimed responsibility for the blasts, but police blamed the Jumatul Mujahideen Bangladesh militant group fighting for the introduction of Sharia law in the mainly Muslim democracy.
A crowd of about 1,000 people had gathered in a Netrokona street to watch the police and fire brigade personnel defuse a bomb. A man on a cycle rode into the crowd, pulled a cord tied to his body and detonated the bomb.
Blooded and severed limbs littered the site of the blast outside the office of Udichi Shilpi Ghosti, a cultural organisation that recently held a series of musical functions to create awareness against the Islamic militants.
Among the dead was a local leader of the cultural group. Many of the victims were people on their way to work at offices, colleges and markets, witnesses said.
Last week, similar bomb attacks killed 14 people in Gazipur town outside Dhaka and in the southern port city of Chittagong .
In August, more than 400 bombs exploded across the country, leaving two persons dead. Two judges were killed in a suicide bomb attack last month just after the South Asian summit ended in Dhaka.
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.
“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 said.
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.
The main Opposition Awami League party said today’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.