01/17/2006, 00.00

More than 240 bomb blasts in 2005

Journalists, political activists, businessmen were among the main targets; the south-west was the worst hit zone. The government has set up special forces and launched operations against outlawed groups, but more needs to be done.

 Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 240 dynamite attacks were perpetrated last year in Bangladesh against political activists, judges, journalists and government members. Despite Dhaka's efforts and the increase in controls by the Rapid Action Battalion – RAB, the special national task force – at least 175 incidents of bomb blast took place in 10 southwestern districts in which 13 people were killed and around 100 injured. According to official information sources, at least 80 were targeted attacks for killing or for destruction and the rest were for creating panic or anarchy, according to law enforcing agencies.

The 175 incidents are in addition to 72 blasts by Islamist militants of JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen, Bangladesh) which went off together on August 17 across the country. Police said most of the bombs were the work of banned parties which were very active in the region.

According to data available from police, one journalist, six political activists, three public representatives were killed and seven journalists, at least 50 political activists and 30 businessmen were injured in the attacks. The stricken zones were: Jessore with 26 attacks, 21 in Khulna, 12 in Jhenidah, eight in Bagerhat, 13 in Sathkhira, 26 in Meherpur, 38 in Chuadanga, five in Narail, 18 in Kushtia and eight in Magura.

Janajuddho (a faction of the banned Purbo Banglar Communist Party), the most powerful outlawed outfit in the region, claimed responsibility for at least 50 of the bomb attacks. The rest were done by other parties and gangs. Police said at least 11 outlawed parties and 20 gangs are active in the ten southwestern districts.

In recent years, the government launched at least 25 special drives to contain outlaws. But most of the drives were ineffective; the authorities justified this by saying there were leaks of intelligence information ahead of operations, while opposition parties accused the government of not doing enough and of being in cahoots with Islamic militants.

High police officials in the region said bomb attacks increased last year. One official, seeking anonymity, said bomb blasts increased in the region as bomb making materials are easily available.

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