| Lawyers protest against the killing of the two judges in Dhaka on Monday. (Reuters)
Dhaka, Nov. 14 (Reuters): Two Bangladeshi judges were killed today when a suspected Islamic militant threw a bomb at their car, triggering widespread protests, police and witnesses said.
The judges were on their way to the Jhalakathi district court, 250 km south of Dhaka, when the attack took place, a police officer said. One was killed instantly. The other died on the way to hospital.
Police detained two men at the scene, including one who was wounded in the blasts. They said they recovered a crude unexploded bomb at the roadside.
Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia condemned the killings and expressed her deep shock, the official BSS news agency said.
Law and parliamentary affairs minister Moudud Ahmed described the latest bombing as an “act by enemies of Bangladesh trying to destabilise the country”. He said the incident was being investigated.
Authorities named the wounded man in detention as Mamun.
The state minister for home affairs, Lutfuzzaman Babar, said Mamun was “apparently an activist of the outlawed Islamist group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen”. The group is blamed for a recent wave of bomb attacks across Bangladesh.
“Some printed papers of Jumaat-ul-Mujahideen were also seized from one of the two arrested people,” Babar added, without saying what was written on them.
A police officer, however, said, the papers were copies of a leaflet that read: “Introduce laws of Quran. We don’t accept man-made laws ' (signed) Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen.”
Today’s powerful blast ripped off the roof of the car in which the judges were travelling and sent passers-by, including schoolchildren, running for cover.
Police later seized “Jihadi” publications from Mamun’s ancestral home in Rajshai, 300 km north of Dhaka and detained his elderly father and a younger brother.
Local reporters quoting Mamun’s neighbours said he was a madarsa dropout who became a militant and activist of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen.
“I have acted under instructions of my higher-ups in the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group and (the group’s fugitive head) Sheik Abdur Rahman is my leader,” a police officer quoted Mamun as telling interrogators at a Jhalakathi hospital. He was later sent to Dhaka for treatment and further interrogation.
Judges and lawyers of the Jhalakathi court gathered in the streets, demanding quick action against the killers. Colleagues in Dhaka, Chittagong and other cities also boycotted courts.
Bangladesh has been hit this year by a series of bombings blamed on militants who have threatened judges in their campaign for the introduction of sharia-based Islamic law.