Act of terrorism in Bangladesh

At least 12 people were killed and 100 wounded in a bomb attack yesterday on an opposition rally in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka. The attack happened as former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed was addressing the crowd from a lorry. Visibly shaken, she crouched low after the first blast occurred at about 5pm (11am GMT), and escaped with minor injuries. Her Awami League party said the blasts were an assassination attempt. The death toll could increase as some of the injured were critically ill in hospital, doctors said. The attack was the second this month against the Awami League. A party leader was killed in the north-eastern town of Sylhet two weeks ago. Reuters reporters at a government hospital where the injured were taken counted nine dead bodies from the scene of the attack. Opposition leaders and news organisations, including the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangtha news agency, said at least three more people had been killed. Police said at least 100 people were injured, including 17 policemen and one seriously hurt senior Awami League official. The party, which has staged strikes since last February in its effort to remove Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and force early general elections, has in the past accused the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of the 'pre-planned murders of opposition leaders and activists'. It has called a fresh two-day strike this week, informs the Observer. Several explosions ripped through a Bangladeshi opposition party rally here on Saturday, killing at least 9 people and wounding as many as 80 others, party and hospital officials said. According to NYTimes, the leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina, Sheik Hasina Wajed, who was speaking at the antigovernment demonstration outside the party's headquarters shortly before the blasts, suffered minor leg injuries, said a senior party official, Razia Mostafa. It was unclear whether Ms. Hasina was the target of the attack. The injured were taken to a nearby medical college hospital, where they crowded the waiting room and corridors awaiting treatment. Doctors treating the wounded said it was very likely that the death toll would rise, because a number of the wounded were in critical condition. The police refused to comment on the cause of the blasts or the number of casualties. No group claimed responsibility for the explosions. Panicked demonstrators scattered after the explosions sent smoke billowing into the air. "We were all running for our lives," said Harun Ur Rashid, 38, holding his slightly injured hand. "We were all trying to escape." "After the speech, Sheik Hasina told us together to start the demonstration, and then there were several bombs," said another demonstrator, Muhammad Alamgir, who was unhurt. "Everything was smoke. I couldn't see anything. People were running. I was so scared I couldn't move. I just sat down and people were running over me." Demonstrators angered by the attack on the rally - the latest in a spate of explosions this year - set several buildings and vehicles on fire afterward as they clashed with security forces. ABCNEWS reports, that a series of bombs exploded as a top Bangladeshi opposition leader was speaking at a rally from atop a truck Saturday, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds, witnesses and news reports said. The main opposition leader, Sheikh Hasina, crouched low in the truck soon after the first blast occurred as she was addressing thousands outside her Awami League party's headquarters in central Dhaka. She was visibly shaken but not hurt. At least 14 people were killed and more than 300 injured, including senior opposition members, United News of Bangladesh reported. Doctors at Dhaka's state-run hospital were overwhelmed and appealed for blood, saying the death toll could increase because some of the injured were in critical condition. No one claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Awami League General Secretary Abdul Jalil claimed they targeted Hasina. The rally was called to protest a series of explosions early this month that killed two people, including an opposition supporter, in the northeastern city of Sylhet. Police gave few details, but Hasina aide Saber Hossain Chowdhury said the first blast was followed by at least eight other explosions and numerous gunshots, and the jeep that carried Hasina away had several bullet marks in the rear glass. "It seemed to me that some of the bombs were thrown from multistory buildings near the scene," said Farook Khan, an opposition lawmaker who was standing close to Hasina. Khan estimated that at least 15,000 people were at the rally when the explosions happened.

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