SIX days after a terrorist attack in the upscale Gulshan neighbourhood in Dhaka, terror struck again in Bangladesh, at its largest congregation for Eid, killing four people and injuring at least 13 others. Two policemen, a woman and a suspected assailant were among those killed in the attack near Sholakia Eidgah in Kishoreganj, about 150 km from Dhaka, where about three lakh people were estimated to have gathered on Thursday morning.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Bangladesh government sources said some of the top Muslim clerics, who were present at the Eid prayers, were among those who had condemned the recent spate of killings and attacks as “unIslamic”.
Speaking at an Eid event, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina referred to the recent terror strikes and said, “This is not the way of Islam. Terrorism will never be tolerated in Bangladesh. The government will do everything to establish peace.”
Police said they have arrested one suspect for the latest attack, which took place at around 10 am. They added that nine of the injured were policemen who were evacuated to Dhaka’s military hospital.
According to officials, a group of six to eight assailants led the attack when policemen were frisking people into the Eidgah ground. They attacked the policemen with machetes and threw some Molotov cocktail-style bombs at them.
Kishoreganj Sadar Police Station Officer-in-Charge Mizanul Haque told local media that a constable of his barracks, Jahirul, died in the attack and several others were injured. The woman who was killed belonged to the Hindu community, said government sources in Dhaka.
Lakhs of people, who had gathered at Sholakia to offer Eid prayers, were trapped in the middle of firing between cops and miscreants.
The ground on seven acres of the bank of the Narosunda River was originally donated by Dewan Hazrat Khan Bahadur, the sixth descendent of Isha Khan, the ruler of Bengal of the Baro-Bhuiyan stock.
The first Eid assembly in Sholakia was held in 1828 where 125,000 devotees were said to have said their prayers.
The name Sholakia is possibly a derivation from the first gathering which in Bengali sounds like ‘shoa-lakhia’ or 1.5 lakh.
The incident comes a day after an Islamic State video went viral on social media in Bangladesh, in which two of them were identified as having gone to top private and government eduational institutions, and one of them was working in a prominent telecom company.
The Islamic State released a video on SITE Intelligence site on Tuesday. “It was a glimpse…will repeat,” the young men said in the video, in which one had his face covered, while two others were bearded.
The video begins with Islamic State propaganda messages, with captions in Bangla, and boasts of death tolls from numerous terror attacks claimed by IS. “The jihad in Bangladesh, the one you are witnessing now, is nothing like anything you have seen before,” said one of them, in his ‘message’ for the Bangladesh government.