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The BBC's Bill Hayton
"Police say the bomb was hidden under a table"
 real 56k

Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
Bangladesh bomb blast kills 21

Political rivalries in the poor South Asian nation are intense
Twenty one people have been killed in a bomb blast at an office of Bangladesh's governing Awami League.

bangladesh
Grief among relatives of the bomb victims outside the hospital
Police say another 100 were injured, including the local member of parliament, Shamim Osman.

He had been addressing party supporters at the offices in the port town of Narayanganj, near the capital Dhaka, when the blast occurred.

No group has admitted carrying out the attack at 2130 local time (1530 GMT).

Intense rivalries

However, Home Minister Mohammad Nasim, who toured the scene, has blamed Islamic extremists.

Bomb explosions:
June 3 2001: 10 people killed at a church in Gopalgnaj
April 14 2001: 12 die during celebrations for the Bengali New Year in Dhaka
January 20 2001: Six people die in two explosions in Dhaka on the communist party and the Awami League
March 6 1999: 10 people killed by two bombs at Jessore in western Bangladesh

The explosion happened during a meeting of the party ahead of a general election scheduled for October.

Political rivalries in Bangladesh are intense and often explode in violence ahead of elections.

Street fights between rival activists and bomb attacks are common during campaigns.

Police say that the device was hidden under a table and that many people died immediately.

The tin roof of the office was blown off by the force of the explosion, a spokesman for the Narayangangj police said.

Television pictures broadcast in Bangladesh showed bodies badly burned or ripped apart by the explosion.

The emergency services are now making urgent appeals for blood donations.

Series of bombs

This explosion is the latest in a series of random bomb blasts in Bangladesh for which no group has claimed responsibility.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina is facing a strong challenge in the upcoming elections
In June there was a bomb attack on a Roman Catholic church in which 10 people were killed.

Two months before that another bomb went off during a concert in the capital Dhaka to celebrate the Bengali new year - eight people were killed.

On that occasion the government had also blamed Islamic extremists.

The Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is facing a strong challenge from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party at the elections.

The prime minister is shortly expected to hand over power to a caretaker administration before the vote is held.

The government last week approved a law which proposes to give Sheikh Hasina life-long security.

It says that her life is under threat after the conviction ofn 12 former army officials found guilty of murdering her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was the first president of Bangladesh.

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See also:

03 Jun 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh church bomb kills nine
01 Apr 01 | South Asia
Violence hits Bangladesh
24 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
14 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh bomb: Man arrested
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