Bomb explosion kills eight in two Bangladesh cities

A series of bombs in two Bangladesh cities killed at least eight people and injured 66 Tuesday in what appeared to be the latest attack by militant Muslims who want to impose harsh Islamic law, officials said. No one claimed responsibility, but police investigators pointed to outlawed Islamic militant group Jumatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, blamed for similar attacks this year. The explosions in the port city of Chittagong and in Gazipur town, just outside the capital, Dhaka, happened just before 9 a.m. (0300 GMT) and appeared to target courthouses, police said. Three bombs went off just outside the Chittagong courthouse, killing an alleged suicide bomber and two police officers, said police official Mosharraf Hossain.

Sixteen people _ including the second suspected suicide bomber _ were injured in the Chittagong blasts, said Habibur Rahman, a doctor at state-run Chittagong Medical College Hospital, 216 kilometers (135 miles) southeast of Dhaka.

Hossain said the first blast occurred when police scuffled with a suspected bomber at the courthouse gate. The second then detonated two more bombs, he said. Hossain revised his earlier statement that the Chittagong blasts killed two alleged bombers.

Three more people, one an alleged bomber, were killed instantly in Gazipur town when a powerful bomb went off inside the Bar Library near a courthouse, said area police chief Atiqul Islam. Later, an unidentified woman and a lawyer who were being treated at a Dhaka hospital succumbed to their injuries, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported.

The explosion at Gazipur, 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Dhaka, injured at least 50 people, Islam said.

"I suddenly heard a big bang, and seconds later I found myself on the floor with pool of blood and body parts around me," Anwar Fakir, a lawyer with severe burn injuries from the Gazipur blast, said from his hospital bed. "It was just terrible. I can't explain." Police said the suspected bomber entered the library wearing a black robe such as those Bangladesh lawyers traditionally wear in court. Leaflets from Jumatul Mujahideen Bangladesh were found at the Chittagong site, a police official said on condition of anonymity, according to policy.

The banned group has been blamed for a recent spate of bombings in Bangladesh. It seeks to establish strict Islamic rule in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which is governed by secular laws. "We condemn such a heinous attack. The attackers are the enemies of the nation, humanity and democracy," senior Cabinet minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan said on the private ATN Bangla television station, reports the AP. I.L.

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