Today's Paper

Hasina escapes bid on life

The scene immediately after a series of bomb blasts ripped through an Awami League rally addressed by Sheikh Hasina Wajed in Dhaka, on Saturday. At least 14 persons were killed and around 300 injured in the explosions, apparently targeting the Opposition leader. — AP  

DHAKA, AUG. 21. A former Prime Minister and the main Opposition leader of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina escaped unhurt when unidentified attackers hurled grenades and bombs at a rally she had just addressed here this afternoon. At least 13 persons were killed and around 300 injured in the rash of attacks at the rally.

Seven to eight bombs and grenades exploded one after the other in the packed Bangabandhu Avenue, in front of the Awami League central office, as soon as Sheikh Hasina ended her speech. Two unexploded grenades were later found in front of the Awami League office by the security forces. Hospital sources confirmed 13 deaths, but the Government put the death toll at 11.

As the first blast went off party leaders and workers threw a security cordon around Sheikh Hasina, who had addressed the rally from a truck.

Party leaders, including the secretary general, Abdul Jalil, said the blasts targeted Sheikh Hasina, who has been leading a strong national campaign against the Government's "misrule and sponsoring of religious terrorists." Recently powerful bombs were unearthed from a venue of a meeting she was to address. The dead were all workers of the Awami League and the seriously injured included senior party leaders, former Ministers and reporters and cameramen of TV channels. The toll could increase as dozens of those injured are in a critical condition. No one claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Shots fired

The Awami League organising secretary, Saber Hossain later claimed that shots were fired at Ms. Hasina as she sped away in a bullet-proof car.

Talking to the media, Ms. Hasina demanded the immediate resignation of the Khaleda Zia Government accusing it of patronising `terrorists, including religious fundamentalists'.

The blasts sparked countrywide protests. In Dhaka police fired teargas to disperse mobs which went on the rampage, smashing and burning dozens of vehicles.