| Security personnel inspect the debris inside the courthouse after the blast in Gazipur, Bangladesh. (AP)
Dhaka, Nov. 29 (Reuters): Nine people were killed and 65 wounded by suspected suicide bombers in two Bangladesh cities today, apparently the latest in a wave of attacks by militants fighting to turn the country into a sharia-based Islamic state.
Police said three people, including two officers, were killed and 15 wounded by blasts at a checkpoint outside a court building in the port city of Chittagong. They said the third person who died was believed to be the bomber.
Another blast, in a court complex in Gazipur ' 30 km north of Dhaka ' killed six people and wounded nearly 50, police said. Local hospital sources said the wounded included lawyers.
Lawyers said the militants were apparently trying to scare legal professionals before courts began trials of hundreds of detained Islamists for suspected involvement in recent blasts.
“The bombers apparently turned more violent as we set up checkposts trying to reinforce security at court premises,” said Majedul Huq, police commissioner in Chittagong.
He said the blasts were probably the work of suicide bombers, who had explosives strapped to their bodies or hidden in bags.
Bangladesh has been hit this year by a wave of bombings blamed on militants demanding Islamic law in the mainly Muslim democracy.
In an immediate protest, hundreds of lawyers took to the streets of Dhaka, Chittagong and other cities, calling for government action to prevent further attacks.
They boycotted courts all over the country today and also called for a national general strike on Thursday.
One of the country’s most senior lawyers, Dr Kamal Hossain, said today’s blasts were a “stark reminder that the suicide bombers wouldn’t rest until they they achieve their mission.
“We reminded the government repeatedly of such threats but they seemed to take it lightly,” he said. “Now it is beyond doubt that they (Islamists) have pushed the country into grave danger,” Hossain said today. Witnesses in Chittagong said the blasts tore flesh and limbs from the victims and sent body parts flying into trees.
At least 30 badly wounded people have been rushed to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital from Gazipur, doctors said.
Witnesses in Gazipur said a suspected suicide bomber walked into the court complex wearing a black robe that disguised him as a lawyer. “In a few minutes, a big blast shook the whole complex sending lawyers and their clients screaming and running for their lives,” a witness said.