Posts Tagged ‘Dhaka’

Bangladesh protests stir opposition hopes of revival before poll — “The government is trying to control everything.”

August 30, 2018

Bangladesh’s main opposition party, in disarray since its leader Khaleda Zia was jailed in February, received an unexpected boost this month – days of protests by tens of thousands of students that have shaken the government ahead of a December election.

What began as an outpouring of anger over the failings of an unregulated transport industry after a speeding bus killed two students in Dhaka, quickly escalated into the widest anti-government protests in the South Asian nation in years, providing a focus for discontent with what critics see as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

“The government is trying to control everything,” said Rabiul Alam, 28, who works in a curtain showroom in Dhaka. “There is no space, no freedom, no democracy. You can’t even criticize the government on Facebook.”

Alam, who is a voter in his hometown in Barishal, in southern Bangladesh, said he would vote for the first time this year – for Khaleda’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Analysts say such views are on the rise around the country.

The protests, which saw students directing traffic for days in the choked streets of Dhaka, demanding to check drivers’ licences and vehicles’ roadworthiness, have put Hasina and her ruling Awami League on the defensive in the run-up to an election she was widely expected to win.

The BNP says it was not involved in starting the protests, but is looking to capitalize on the opening they have been offered with rallies across the country aimed at pressuring the government to release its leader.

“The protest was spontaneous and non-political,” said BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. “The students have showed us the state is in need of repair.”

The government has blamed the BNP for inciting the students.

To quell the protests, Hasina announced compensation to the victims’ families and the government agreed to raise the maximum jail time for rash driving to five years from three.

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FILE PHOTO: A slogan is written on the body of a student as he takes part in a protest over recent traffic accidents that killed a boy and a girl, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, August 4, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo

But heavy-handed policing of demonstrations and a wave of arrests fueled accusations that free speech is increasingly being curtailed. The government said its actions were necessary to restore order.

BUS TRAGEDY

The protests erupted after the driver of a speeding private bus lost control in a congested part of Dhaka and plowed into a bus stop, killing two students. Most private bus drivers in Bangladesh do not get paid a salary, but earn commission for the number of people they pick up, leading them to race each other for passengers.

Demonstrations quickly spread to the cities of Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Rangpur and Mymensingh, as the protests struck a chord.

Hasina’s government, which began her term in 2009 cracking down on Islamist groups and sending top leaders to the gallows for war crimes during the 1971 independence war, is seen by some as increasingly high-handed after nearly a decade in power.

In February, a court handed Khaleda, a two-term prime minister with whom Hasina shares a long and bitter rivalry, a five-year sentence for corruption – charges that she says are part of a plot to keep her and her family out of politics.

In recent months, Hasina has faced criticism that her political opponents are being swept up in the ongoing drive against militancy, corruption and drugs, which has also seen security forces accused of overstepping the law.

The police’s response to the protests – by firing rubber bullets, water cannons, and teargas at unarmed students – has drawn international criticism for the government, including from the United States and United Nations.

The government has ordered police to patrol school and college campuses to head off further trouble.

Sayed Nasirullah, an assistant commissioner with the Dhaka metropolitan police, said at least 20 students had been arrested on suspicion they spread “rumours and propaganda” on social media. Social activist and photographer Shahidul Alam, who had posted comments that a student wing of Hasina’s ruling party was trying to attack the protesters, was held on similar charges.

BNP BENEFITS?

The government has said it had to impose control because rival politicians got involved in the protests.

“There are forces within and outside the country waiting for any popular issue and then mold it to their advantage,” Hasina’s political adviser, Hossain Toufique Imam, told Reuters. “There’s no doubt that there are enemies of the government who are trying to take every opportunity to destabilize it.”

Hasina won the 2014 election for a second five-year term after Khaleda boycotted the polls in protest at the scrapping of the practice of installing a neutral caretaker government to oversee elections. Her party says it will decide in the next few weeks whether to continue with the boycott.

Analysts say the government’s response to the emotionally charged student protests means Hasina may now face a much tougher fight to retain power than seemed likely a few months ago, if the BNP decides to take part – even though several leading BNP members are in jail on various charges.

The BNP, facing near-extinction with Khaleda’s jailing, hopes it has found the lifeline it needed.

“The student protests showed that people have lost their faith in the Awami League,” said Shahadat Hossain, BNP president for the southeastern district of Chittagong.

Anger at the ruling party may not fully translate into votes for the BNP, however.

“The way the ruling party handled the protests was not appropriate. This will definitely have some negative impact on the ruling party,” said Nakibur Rahman, 23, a private university student in Dhaka who will be a first-time voter in December.

“All my family members are Awami League supporters. They are not switching sides but I have not taken any decision yet. But I am not going to vote for the BNP either.”

Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui and Ruma Paul; Editing by Krishna N. Das, Sanjeev Miglani and Alex Richardson

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Bangladesh considers death penalty in careless driving death cases

August 6, 2018

Bangladesh’s cabinet on Monday will consider capital punishment for traffic accident deaths, a law ministry official said, as thousands of students held protests for a ninth day over the deaths of two teenagers by a speeding bus in Dhaka.

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Bangladesh we want justice protest

Tens of thousands of angry school and colleges students have been demanding changes to Bangladesh’s transport laws, paralyzing the crowded capital of 18 million, after the two teenagers were killed when a privately operated bus ran over a group of students on July 29.

“In this amendment it has been proposed to award the highest level of punishment if it is killing by an accident,” said the law ministry official, who has been briefed on the matter but declined to be named ahead of a decision.

The current punishment is a maximum jail term of three years. Using the death penalty for road accidents is rare anywhere in the world. Bangladesh’s transport authority listed punishments given in different countries that ranged from 14 years in the U.K. in extreme cases to two years in India. bit.ly/2ObIBlC

Sheikh Shafi, a student of a polytechnic institute in Dhaka who lost his brother in a road accident in 2015, said one of the problems was that bus drivers are not paid fixed monthly salaries instead only earn commissions based on the number of passengers, forcing them to work long hours.

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“Our demand is that the owners must appoint them and they will work a maximum of 10 hours. The commission based system must be eliminated,” said Shafi, who was injured while protesting on Saturday.

Amid the ongoing protests, an official vehicle carrying the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh was attacked by a group of armed men on Sunday, some on motorcycles, the embassy said in a statement. There were no injuries but two vehicles were damaged.

The embassy has condemned the “brutal attacks and violence” against the students protesters by security forces, a charge the government denies.

Police said they did not have an immediate explanation as to why the U.S. ambassador came under attack.

Reporting by Serajul Quadir and Ruma Paul; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Michael Perry

Reuters

See also (Includes video):

Bangladesh police fire tear gas to disperse students protesting against road deaths

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-06/bangladesh-police-fire-tear-gas-to-disperse-students-protesting/10077978

10 Dead in Bangladesh Garment Factory Explosion

July 4, 2017

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Police say a boiler explosion at a garment factory in Bangladesh owned by export-oriented Multifabs Ltd. has killed 10 people injured 50.

Local police chief Aminul Islam says the explosion took place on Monday evening at a factory in Gazipur district, outside the capital, Dhaka. By Tuesday afternoon, 10 deaths had been reported.

Islam says the search for more victims was ongoing. It was not clear how many remained missing. According to relatives, some six people are missing.

Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories and is the world’s second-largest producer after China. The country has improved its factory safety standard remarkably after the collapse of a complex housing five factories killed more than 1,100 people in 2013.

Bangladesh Police Say Leader of Cafe Attack Has Been Killed — Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh — Bangladesh still in denial?

January 6, 2017

NEW DELHI — Bangladesh police say a militant suspected of being one of the leaders of an attack on a popular cafe in Bangladesh’s capital that left 20 people dead last year has been killed in a shootout with security officials.

Counterterrorism unit head Monirul Islam said Nurul Islam Marzan was one of two people killed in a shootout early Friday in Dhaka. He did not provide details. Also killed was Saddam Hossain, an accomplice of Marzan, said Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.

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Marzan

Police had said earlier that Marzan was one of the leaders of the July 1 attack on a Dhaka restaurant where 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, were killed.

Khan said Saddam was involved in many killings including the slaying of a Japanese citizen in the hands of the suspected militants in the country’s northern Bangladesh in recent years.

Marzan was identified by police as a leader of the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh group.

Since the July attack on the cafe, security officials have killed about 40 alleged Islamist militants in raids.

There has been a surge in attacks in Bangladesh in recent years, and dozens of secular bloggers, writers, publishers and members of minority groups and foreigners have been targeted and killed by radical Islamists.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks including the July siege, but Bangladeshi authorities have repeatedly said the IS group has no presence in the Muslim-majority country.

Related:

 (From July, 2016)

Today, soliders took up positions around the restaurant in case there were any further attacks 

Today, soldiers took up positions around the restaurant in case there were any further attacks

The Bangladeshi military positioned armoured personnel carriers on the streets to increase security 

The Bangladeshi military positioned armoured personnel carriers on the streets to increase security

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Relatives of some of those inside the restaurant gathered at the edge of the police cordon for news 

Relatives of some of those inside the restaurant gathered at the edge of the police cordon for news

Two marksmen stood holding their high-powered Dragunov sniper rifles after last night's rescue mission 

Two marksmen stood holding their high-powered Dragunov sniper rifles after last night’s rescue mission

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Troops boarded Armoured Personnel Carriers after rescuing 13 hostages who here being held by ISIS

Troops boarded Armoured Personnel Carriers after rescuing 13 hostages who here being held by ISIS

.

Troops searching the building recovered assault rifles, knives and some improvised explosive devices 

Troops searching the building recovered assault rifles, knives and some improvised explosive devices

Bangladesh arrests two Islamists blamed for cafe attack

December 20, 2016

Reuters

Bangladesh security forces on Tuesday arrested two members of an Islamist militant group blamed for a deadly attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July in which 22 people were killed, most of them foreigners.

The July 1 attack in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter was claimed by the Islamic State and was the worst militant attack in Bangladesh, which has been hit by a spate of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in the past year.

A Bangladeshi armoured military tank in Dhaka on July 2, a day after the attack that killed 22 people in an upscale Dhaka restaurant. The Dhaka Tribune has reported that investigators suspect the militants who struck on July 1 were aided by “several foreign extremist groups as well as some home-grown militant leaders now staying abroad”, with the aim of “establishing Islamic rule in the country by uprooting democratic forces”. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The two suspects, aged 21 and 28, were members of a faction of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militant group, known as New JMB, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and which police believe was involved in organizing the cafe attack.

“We have recovered money, jihadi books, leaflets and sharp weapons,” Lutful Kabir, a senior official with the police-led Rapid Action Battalion, which is involved in counter-terrorism efforts, told a news conference.

The five gunmen who attacked the cafe were all killed.

Police have killed at least 42 suspected Islamists in raids since then, including the man police said was the attack mastermind, Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Related:

 (From July, 2016)

Today, soliders took up positions around the restaurant in case there were any further attacks 

Today, soldiers took up positions around the restaurant in case there were any further attacks

The Bangladeshi military positioned armoured personnel carriers on the streets to increase security 

The Bangladeshi military positioned armoured personnel carriers on the streets to increase security

.

Relatives of some of those inside the restaurant gathered at the edge of the police cordon for news 

Relatives of some of those inside the restaurant gathered at the edge of the police cordon for news

Two marksmen stood holding their high-powered Dragunov sniper rifles after last night's rescue mission 

Two marksmen stood holding their high-powered Dragunov sniper rifles after last night’s rescue mission

.

Troops boarded Armoured Personnel Carriers after rescuing 13 hostages who here being held by ISIS

Troops boarded Armoured Personnel Carriers after rescuing 13 hostages who here being held by ISIS

.

Troops searching the building recovered assault rifles, knives and some improvised explosive devices 

Troops searching the building recovered assault rifles, knives and some improvised explosive devices

Bangladesh will allow more time to detain two held in July cafe attack

August 13, 2016
By Serajul Quadir | DHAKA

A Bangladesh court allowed police on Saturday to continue holding two men in connection with an attack last month claimed by Islamic State that killed 20 hostages at an upscale cafe in the capital, Dhaka police said.

Police told the court they needed more time to interrogate Hasnat Karim, a dual British and Bangladeshi national, and Tahmid Hasib Khan, a student at Toronto University, in connection with the assault on July 1. The families of both men say they are innocent.

Their cases have been marked by confusion. When the two men were remanded in custody earlier this month, police official Masudur Rahman told reporters they had been arrested “from two different places”.

But their families say Karim and Khan were dining, separately, with family and friends when gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery. Karim, a 47-year-old engineer, was said to be at the cafe to celebrate his daughter’s 13th birthday.

Police confirmed on Saturday that Karim has been formally arrested, while Khan was being held as a suspect. Both appeared before the court, with Karim being remanded for a further eight days and Khan for six.

Rahman said Karim was arrested because police needed “further details” because of information that emerged during his interrogation.

He told Reuters that video footage during the cafe attack showed Karim appearing to act “calm and normal with the militants.” He declined to give any further information.

Karim’s wife, Sharmina Karim, told Reuters it was not at all clear to her what was happening.

“He is innocent. He went to the cafe along with me and our two daughters,” she said after Karim made his court appearance. “How can it be that he would go there knowing there would be such a massacre? Is this not unusual, unbelievable thinking?”

There was no immediate comment from the Khan family.

Karim and Khan were among 32 people rescued by police and taken into custody for questioning after the attack. Police released the others soon after.

During the attack on the cafe, Islamist militants singled out non-Muslims and foreigners, killing Italians, Japanese, an American and an Indian before security forces stormed the eatery to end the 12-hour siege. Two police also died in the operation.

The government has dismissed suggestions that Islamic State has a presence in Bangladesh, even though photographs of attackers posing with assault rifles in front of the group’s black banner were posted on the group’s propaganda outlets.

Neither Karim nor Khan appeared in the photographs.

(Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Tom Lasseter and Tom Heneghan)

Foreigners under threat in Bangladesh: US

July 8, 2016
Star Online Report
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Star file photo of a moment of the Dhaka attack on July 1, 2016, where alleged followers of the Islamic State killed off 20 hostages during a 12-hour-long siege.

The United States believe that Bangladesh is under threat of terrorism and the foreign nationals dwelling in the country are in danger of targeted attacks.

“US Government believes the threat of terrorism, specially attacks against foreigners, remains real and credible in Bangladesh,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said.

The threat, he said, has compelled US authorities to put a travel alert for its citizens travelling to Bangladesh since February last year, the spokesman said.

“The US Government believes the threat of terrorism remains real and credible and that terrorist attacks could occur against foreigners,” he said in today’s daily briefing.

On July 1, in an attack claimed by Islamic State, 20 hostages were killed in a nearly 12-hour long siege.

Most of them were foreign nationals and included a US citizen.

http://www.thedailystar.net/country/foreigners-under-threat-bangladesh-1250962

Related:

Bangladesh has been experiencing violent deaths related to religious differences for some time:

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The Dhaka attack:

Today, soliders took up positions around the restaurant in case there were any further attacks 

Soldiers took up positions around the restaurant

The Bangladeshi military positioned armoured personnel carriers on the streets to increase security 

The Bangladeshi military positioned armoured personnel carriers on the streets to increase security

.

Relatives of some of those inside the restaurant gathered at the edge of the police cordon for news 

Relatives of some of those inside the restaurant gathered at the edge of the police cordon for news

Bangladesh seeks to account for missing youth to head off attacks

July 8, 2016

Reuters

Fri Jul 8, 2016 8:45am EDT

Bangladesh’s prime minister has urged parents whose children have gone missing to provide information after some of the militants who attacked a Dhaka cafe last week turned out to be young men who had broken contact with their well-to-do families.

Twenty people were killed in the attack, most of them foreigners, when five young Bangladeshi men stormed into the restaurant in an upscale part of the capital in an assault claimed by Islamic State.

Three of the militants attended prestigious schools or universities in Dhaka and Malaysia and had been reported missing from their homes for months. One was the son of a politician.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, battling escalating Islamist militancy, appealed for cooperation from parents whose children had left home without explanation.

“We have learned that many college and university students are missing. Don’t just file a GD, give us all the information and photos,” she said in a speech on Thursday.

A GD, or general diary, is an initial police report.

The head of Bangladesh’s counter terrorism police, Monirul Islam, said it was difficult to provide an estimate of the number of children who had gone missing.

Bangladesh has faced a series of attacks on liberal bloggers, university teachers and members of religious minorities over the past year. The government says two domestic militant groups trying to replace secular democracy with sharia rule are responsible for the violence.

But the attack on the cafe marked a sharp escalation in the scale and sophistication of the violence which security experts said pointed to greater links with trans-national militant groups, even if no foreign fighters took part.

Police have not determined how the five men, who were from 19 to 26 years old, turned into cold-blooded killers. They are also trying to identify those who orchestrated the attack, one of the worst in Bangladesh’s history.

“It’s a good hypothesis to begin with that there must have been some masterminds. It is not possible that those boys make a 180-degree turn and become killing machines,” said H.T. Imam, a political adviser to Hasina.

One of the attackers, identified as Khairul Islam Payel from a village in northern Bangladesh, was also a suspect in the killing of a Japanese man last year, police said. That attack was claimed by Islamic State.

Among the dead in the cafe attack were seven Japanese, nine Italians, an American and an Indian.

On Thursday, militants attacked police guarding a festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan killing three people and wounding 14.

Police said seven people including students had been detained for questioning over the attack.

Islamic State has warned that the violence would continue until Islamic law was established worldwide, saying in a video that the Dhaka assault was just a hint of what was to come.

The government says it will not be cowed by the violence.

(Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Related:

Bangladesh has been experience violent deaths related to religious differences for some time:

)

 

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Pakistan’s largest province passed a landmark law criminalising all forms of violence against women, but more than 30 religious groups have threatened to launch protests if the law is not repealed AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

 

Bangladesh: Jihadi Terrorists Disrupt Eid Prayer, Four Dead — “It is a political attack to oust and topple the secular government of Sheikh Hasina”

July 7, 2016

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Two police officers, another woman and one suspected attacker killed as militants throw homemade bombs during attack in Sholakia, north of Dhaka

The Associated Press
July 7, 2016

Muslims pray during Eid-al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Photograph by STR, AFP, Getty Images

Terrorists in Bangladesh hurled homemade bombs and fought a gun battle with police guarding a large Eid prayer gathering on Thursday morning. Two officers, a woman and one suspected militant were killed, while at least 12 others were injured, officials said.

At least one of the bombs exploded during the prayer attended by hundreds of thousands of people at the sprawling Sholakia grounds in the district of Kishoreganj, about 60 miles (90km) north of the capital, Dhaka. The grounds hold the largest open-air gatherings for the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

After the blast, police fired on the attackers and killed one of them, Asst Supt Tofazzal Hossain said. The country’s information minister said the target of the attack was the police convoy patrolling the religious gathering.

Up to nine police constables were injured in the attack, minister Hasanul Haq Inu told Indian broadcaster CNN-News 18.

Police cordoned off the area and searched the devotees as well as nearby houses for suspects in hiding, said local resident Shafiqul Islam, who was among those praying.

The violence comes just days after a deadly hostage crisis in which 28 people were killed, including 20 hostages, two police and six of the attackers. Most of the hostages killed during the Friday night attack on a Dhaka restaurant were foreigners from Italy, Japan and India, raising international concerns about escalating extremist violence in Bangladesh.

The ongoing spate of attacks, which began in 2013, has generally targeted atheists, religious minorities and others considered by militants to be “enemies of Islam”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but the government said it was carried out by domestic militants fighting to destabilise the secular government of Sheikh Hasina, and establish Islamic rule in the Muslim-majority nation.

“It is a totally political move. They are out to destabilise the government. It is a political attack to oust and topple the secular government of Sheikh Hasina,” Inu said.

Though Islamic State has claimed many past attacks, including the hostage-taking, Hasina’s government has dismissed those claims as opportunistic and says none of the attacks have been orchestrated from abroad.

Instead, Hasina’s government has accused her political opponents of backing the militant agenda in Bangladesh, an allegation the opposition parties vehemently deny.

On Wednesday, Isis released a video warning of more attacks in Bangladesh, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi activity online.

Many Bangladeshis have said they were horrified by the attacks, but determined to stand against them.

“The rise of such a minuscule militancy can be rooted out very soon,” said Dhaka resident Mohammad Nizam Uddin Jitu.

“The people of this country are united,” he said. “The people of this country are peace-loving. The people of this country never support militancy.”

Related:

Bangladesh has been experience violent deaths related to religious differences for some time:

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Pakistan’s largest province passed a landmark law criminalising all forms of violence against women, but more than 30 religious groups have threatened to launch protests if the law is not repealed AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

 

Bangladesh: Blast and shootings kill 4 near Eid prayers gathering of 200,000 people in the northern Kishoreganj district

July 7, 2016

Al Jazeera

Bombs hurled and gunfire exchanged at gathering of 200,000 people in the northern Kishoreganj district.

 

At least one policeman has been killed and five others wounded after a small bomb blew up near a mass Eid prayer congregation in northern Bangladesh.

At least 200,000 people were gathered near a school in the northern Kishoreganj district when the bomb exploded on the premises of the school on Thursday, according to police and local media.

There were reports of exchanges of gunfire at the scene.

The private Somoy TV station broadcast footage of a gunfight between police and a group of attackers and reported the policeman had been hacked to death.

 

Relatives and friends of two victims of a bloody attack on an upscale restaurant late last week mourn their death during their funeral in Dhaka as Bangladesh authorities struggle to combat militant attacks. AFP photo

“They threw a bomb at a police checkpost. A police constable was killed in the explosion. One attacker was killed and another was arrested,” Mahbubur Rahman, a police officer in the district control room, told the AFP news agency.

“The congregation was not affected by the clashes,” Azimuddin Biswas, the district administrator, told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.


READ MORE: Divisive politics set the stage for Dhaka attacks


Al Jazeera’s Maher Sattar, reporting from the capital Dhaka, said large gatherings for the Eid prayers were usually organised with donations from organisations and wealthy business people.

“They usually have very good security because they are such large gatherings,” he said. “They are one of the best protected events in the country.”

The incident comes days after 20 hostages were killed – many of them hacked to death – during a 12-hour siege at a popular restaurant in an upscale suburb of Dhaka.

Related:

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4 Killed In Blast Near Eid Prayers In Bangladesh, Second Attack In A Week