Militants target Bangladesh Eid festival | News | DW | 07.07.2016
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Militants target Bangladesh Eid festival

Four people - two policemen, a militant and a bystander - have been killed and 12 wounded in a blast and gunbattle near the country's largest Ramadan festival. The country remains on edge following a string of attacks.

Suspected Islamists hurled homemade bombs and engaged in a gunbattle Thursday against police guarding a large Eid prayer meeting marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

At least one of the bombs exploded during the prayer attended by hundreds of thousands of people marking the Eid festia at the sprawling Sholakia grounds in the northern Kishoreganj district

After the blast, police fired on the attackers and killed one of them, Assistant Police Superintendent Tofazzal Hossain said. The country's information minister said the target of the attack was the police convoy patrolling the religious gathering.

"They threw a bomb at a police checkpost. A police constable was killed in the explosion. One attacker was killed and another was arrested," said Mahbubur Rahman, a police officer in the district headquarters.

Two police offficers, a militant and a woman caught in the crossfire were killed, authorities said; about a dozen people were injured.

Hossain told the AFP news agency that several people had taken part in the attack and some had been armed with machetes - a hallmark of recent Islamist killings in the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, about 140 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of Dhaka. It comes less than a week after 28 people were killed after Islamists stormed an upscale cafe in the capital, Dhaka.

Screenshot IS-Propaganda Video Bangladesh Terror

Despite claims of responsibility, the government has denies that jihadist networks have gained a foothold in the country

Government denies international link

The surge in attacks that began in 2013 has generally targeted atheists, religious minorities and others considered by militants to be "enemies of Islam."

Though many of the attacks have been claimed by the self-styled Islamic State group - which this week pledged new attacks - Sheikh Hasina's government has dismissed these statements as opportunistic and says none of the attacks have been orchestrated from abroad.

The government has blamed political opponents for the violence.

Information Minister Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the target of the attack was the police convoy patrolling the religious gathering.

"It is a totally political move. They are out to destabilize the government. It is a political attack to oust and topple the secular government of Sheikh Hasina," Inu told Indian broadcaster CNN-News 18

Ramadan ended this week with Eid al-Fitr festivals held across the world.

jar/sms (AP, AFP)