06/04/2013, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Muslims, Hindus and Catholics remember Baniarchar church victims

by Sumon Corraya
Twelve years after a church bombing killed ten people, wounding an additional 26, members of three religions come together to commemorate the victims and demand justice. For Hindu leader, "Bangladesh is a country of peaceful coexistence," and extremist groups "tarnish the country's image."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - On 3 June 2001, a bomb exploded in the Catholic church of Baniarchar, Gopalganj District, killing ten Catholics and wounding another 26. Yesterday, 12 years after the attack, the community remembered the victims. Muslims and Hindus took part in the commemoration, calling on the authorities to shed light on the event.

"It is unacceptable for some fundamentalist Muslims to use religion as a pretext to kill other people," said Shamollito Islamic Jot President Jiaual Hasan. "It is high time that a real investigation gets underway."

"A church is a sacred place," Hindu leader James Subroto Hajra told AsiaNews. "Everyone should be free to profess their faith. For this reason, we want the culprits to get exemplary punishment."

For Mr Hajra, who is also head of the Council for the Unity of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, "Bangladesh is a place of peaceful coexistence between different religious communities and episodes of this nature tarnish the country's image."

Since the attack took place on 3 June 2001, the police changed the officer in charge of the investigation seven times. In all this time, it failed to apprehend anyone in connection with the incident.

During the ceremony commemorating the event, all 200 participants lit a candle in memory of the victims and prayed for their eternal soul.

In Bangladesh, a country of about 161 million, Catholics represents approximately 0.3 per cent of the population.

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