Bangladesh Cinema Bombs Kill 15, Wound Nearly 300 (REUTERS) DHAKA 12/07/02 01:20 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
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DHAKA (Reuters) - A series of near-simultaneous bomb blasts at four
Bangladesh cinemas packed with families celebrating the end of the
Muslim fasting month of Ramadan killed 15 people on Saturday and
wounded nearly 300, police said.
The bombs went off at movie theaters in and around the normally quiet
tourist town of Mymenshingh, 95 miles north of the capital, at 6 p.m.
Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury said the attacks could be the
work of Osama bin Laden´s al Qaeda network or some other terror group
and ordered a nationwide security alert.
"Police suspect al Qaeda or any other terror groups are behind the
bomb blasts," Chowdhury told Reuters. Al Qaeda is the United States´
prime suspect in last year´s September 11 attacks on New York and
Chowdhury said political opponents might have been behind the
explosions in a bid to try to destabilize the government.
"We are trying to find out who are actually involved in these cruel
acts," he said. "The government has ordered a security alert all over
the country to prevent any such attempts of terror acts."
The theaters were full of nearly 2,000 men, women and children
celebrating the Eid al-Fitr festival at the time, police said.
Doctors said many of the wounded had lost limbs.
"There have been seriously injured people admitted into hospitals.
Police have launched an immediate investigation," an officer told
Police said no one had yet claimed responsibility for the blasts.
No foreigners were among the dead.
"We have now recovered 14 bodies from the cinemas. The number of
deaths may rise," police inspector Abu Taleb told Reuters by
Doctors said another victim died in hospital, where some 50 victims
were lying in critical condition.
Police arrested five suspects from around the bombed cinemas. Troops
have cordoned off the debris, witnesses said.
The three-day Eid holidays began on Thursday.
The blasts contrast with recent attacks in Asia, including the
October 12 Bali bombings, which have been blamed on Muslim militants
and aimed at western targets.
In September, bomb blasts wounded 30 people at a circus in
southwestern Satkhira. At least 22 people were killed and more than
100 injured in a bomb blast at a local office of then ruling Awami
League in June 2001.
At least nine people were killed and 50 injured in a bomb blast
during an open-air concert in 2000.
Most of the attacks were blamed on local criminal or political
Indian newspaper said last month New Delhi intelligence agencies
believed bin Laden´s deputy, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, was in
hiding in Bangladesh but Dhaka dismissed the report.
The Hindustan Times quoted an intelligence report as saying
Bangladesh, India´s eastern neighbor, had become a haven for bin
Laden´s al Qaeda network and that Zawahiri had been in Bangladesh
Last month, Bangladesh said it was investigating if there were 99
camps belonging to Indian rebel groups on its soil.
"A list of 99 camps of rebel groups from India´s northeastern states,
as alleged by Indian authorities, is being investigated and the
outcome would be conveyed to India," Foreign Secretary Shamsher M.
Bangladesh has always denied the presence of Indian rebel groups on
India and Bangladesh share a 2,500-mile border where smuggling and
other illegal activities are common. Mymenshingh is 25 miles away.
(© Reuters 2002 12/07/02)
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