Bangladesh sealers to punish militants blamed for recent bombings

Bangladesh will not bow to militants responsible for recent bombings that killed 22 people and injured dozens of others, the prime minister said Friday. "We shall not allow the bomb terrorism to destroy whatever good things we have achieved," Prime Minister Khaleda Zia told several thousand school children who gathered at Dhaka's Bangabandhu National Stadium to celebrate Bangladesh's 34th independence anniversary amid tight security.

Bangladesh was the eastern wing of Pakistan until Dec. 16, 1971, when it gained independence after nine months of civil war. It proclaimed independence after Pakistani military rulers sent troops to crush a pro-democracy movement.

"The misguided elements responsible for the bomb attacks will be put on trial and given exemplary punishment," Zia said before watching children marching through the stadium, singing and dancing as about 2,000 security forces stood guard.

Bangladesh stepped up security for the independence anniversary after bomb attacks blamed on militants that begin at the end of November killed 22 people and injured scores of others.

Zia did not name any group, but police investigators blamed the bombings on Jumatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group that is seeking to impose harsh Islamic rule in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which is governed by secular laws.

Police said Friday they were interrogating Ataur Rahman, the group's reputed military commander and its alleged money man Fariduzzaman Swapan, in hopes of breaking up the group. The men, both in their late 30s were captured Tuesday.

A Dhaka court on Thursday allowed investigators to hold Rahman for 14 more days for interrogation, while Swapan will be questioned for seven days. Neither suspect has been charged, reports the AP. I.L.