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. About 50 of the wounded were in critical condition, doctors
Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury said the attacks could be
the work of Osama bin Laden (news
sites)'s al Qaeda network or another terrorist group and ordered
a national security alert.
"Police suspect al Qaeda or any other terror groups are behind
the bomb blasts," Chowdhury told Reuters. Al Qaeda is Washington's
prime suspect in last year's September 11 attacks on New York and
Chowdhury said political opponents also 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 that concludes Ramadan, police
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 Reuters.
'NOT SURE' IF SUICIDE BOMBERS
"We are not sure whether the bombs were planted earlier or
exploded by suicide bombers," another police officer said.
"Rubble and debris filled the floors of the damaged cinema
halls," a witness said by telephone.
Weeping relatives of victims thronged Mymenshingh Medical College
Hospital to identify the bodies. "I don't know how long I will have
to wait to get the body of my son," a man said.
Police said no one had yet claimed responsibility and 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
telephone. Doctors said another victim died at a hospital.
Police arrested five people in the area of the cinemas. Troops
have cordoned off the debris, witnesses said.
In September, bombs wounded 30 people at a circus in southwestern
Satkhira. At least 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured
in a bombing at a local office of the then- ruling Awami League in
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 extremist groups.
But recent attacks in Asia, including the October 12 Bali
bombings, have been attributed to Muslim extremists and aimed at
The Hindustan Times of India quoted an intelligence report last
month as saying that Bangladesh, India's eastern neighbor, had
become a haven for al Qaeda and that Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, a
top deputy of bin Laden, had been in Bangladesh since September.
Dhaka dismissed that report.
Last month Bangladesh said it was investigating reports of 99
camps belonging to Indian rebel groups operating on its soil.
"A list of 99 camps of rebel groups from India's northeastern
states, as alleged by Indian authorities, is being investigated,"
Foreign Secretary Shamsher M. Chowdhury said.
Bangladesh has always denied the presence of Indian rebel groups
on its territory.
India and Bangladesh share a 2,500-mile border, a region where
smuggling and other illegal activities are common. Mymenshingh is 25