JNN 26 Oct 2015 Dhaka : At least one person has been martyred and nearly 80 wounded on Saturday on the Day of the Ashora , in a bomb attack outside the main Shia site in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka as thousands gathered for the annual Ashura procession, police said.
Officers said it was believed to be first time Bangladesh’s tiny Shia Muslim community has been targeted and came just weeks after an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farmer were shot dead in attacks claimed by Islamic State Terrorist group.
A 14-year-old boy died on the spot after three small bombs were thrown outside the Hossaini Dalan, the main Shia site in the old Mughal quarter of Dhaka, at about 2am Saturday.
“There were some 20,000 people in and outside the building at that time. They were preparing to hold the annual Muharram mourning procession when the three [bombs] were exploded outside the Hossaini Dalan,” deputy commissioner of Dhaka police Mofiz Uddin Ahmed said.
Local police chief Azizul Haq said at least one person was killed and around 80 injured in the attack.
“We’ve recovered two unexploded bombs. These are like explosive devices and almost like grenades and fitted with batteries,” Haq said.
Police inspector Mozammel Hoque said most of the injured were hit by bomb splinters but none was in critical condition.
“Some 50 were brought to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. A 14-year-old boy was brought in dead. He died due to the explosion,” he said.
Ashura marks the climax of the holy month of Muharram when Shia Muslims hold processions and gatherings to mourn the martyrdom of the prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq in 680 AD.
Witnesses told the mass-circulation daily Prothom Alo many mourners fell to the ground as loud explosions went off just outside the Hossaini Dalan, the most important prayer and congregation site for Bangladesh’s Shias.
Roni, who uses one name, said mourners in black were holding prayers just before the procession when he heard 8-10 explosions and saw a fire.
Local television station Somoy TV showed live footage of people running helter skelter moments after the blasts. Many people were seen being taken to hospital by ambulance.
The explosions came amid weeks of heightened tension in Bangladesh after the Islamic State group claimed its first attacks in the mainly moderate Sunni country of 160 million people.
Police and the authorities, however, have rejected the claim, saying they do not believe the group exists in the country.
While it was believed to be the first attack on Shia Muslims in Bangladesh, in the past two years banned Wahabi groups have killed more than a dozen Sufi Muslims and attacked Hindus and Christians.
Experts say Wahabi Terrorists pose a growing danger in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, warning a long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government.
The killing of four atheist bloggers this year undermines the government’s efforts to play down the threat posed by hardliners, experts say.