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The BBC's Lucy Hockings
"The festivities were coming to an end when the bomb went off"
 real 56k

Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Bangladesh bomb kills nine
People flee the scene of the bomb blast in a Dhaka park
The blast caused panic among concert-goers
A bomb explosion at an open-air concert in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, has killed at least nine people and injured several others.

The bomb went off in a park where thousands of people were attending events to celebrate the Bengali New Year.


We have been holding such concerts for 40 years...but never before have we become a target of terrorism

Khairul Anam Shakil, concert organiser
The emergency services immediately rushed in and cordoned off the area.

A second smaller blast about 45 minutes later wounded a police officer.

Several thousand people had gathered at Ramna Park in central Dhaka for the festivities.

Live broadcast

Bangladesh's state-owned television was broadcasting the concert live at the time of the blast.

Panicking men, women and children ran from the scene after the explosion.

Police began a search off the area, and the injured were taken to nearby hospitals by ambulance and tricycle rickshaws.

No organisation or group has admitted responsibility for the blasts.

Khairul Anam Shakil, general-secretary of Bangladesh's leading cultural group, Chhayanot, which organised the concert, condemned the bombings as an attack on Bengali culture.

"I am deeply depressed and disturbed by the incident. We have been holding such concerts for 40 years to highlight Bengali culture, but never before have we become a target of terrorism", he told Reuters.

Investigation

Police say it is too early to determine who was behind the bomb attack.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina has vowed to complete her term
One report suggested the main explosion was triggered by a timing device, but witnesses said the bomb was being carried by a man, and could have gone off prematurely.

In January, an explosion at a political rally left four people dead.

And in 1999, a bomb attack at a similar open-air concert in the southern district of Jessore killed 10 people.

The Bangladeshi Home Minister, Mohammad Nasim, has ordered an investigation.

Political protests

The explosions come amid a political stand-off over the date of the country's next general election, which has prompted a series of general strikes and many clashes.

The BBC Dhaka correspondent, Kamal Ahmed, says the authorities have been expressing concern in recent weeks about the increased use of petrol bombs at political protests.

The opposition, which has been pressing for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's resignation to pave the way for early poll, has planned another three-day strike beginning 23 April.

General elections are due in July and the prime minister's Awami League party has vowed to serve out its full term.

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See also:

01 Apr 01 | South Asia
Violence hits Bangladesh
09 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh hit by more strikes
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