Bangladesh on Sunday rejected as “entirely baseless” claims by the Islamic State that it was behind bomb blasts targeting Shia community that killed a 14-year-old boy and injured 90 others and said people trying to discredit the government were behind the incident.
“The (reported IS) claim is entirely baseless and Islamist militants were not involved in it...give us just one or two days and by that time we expect the real culprits to be exposed to justice,” home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told PTI. A boy was killed and about 90 others injured in Saturday’s blasts targeting a Shia procession in front of the community’s main shrine in the Bangladeshi capital.
The bombing comes just weeks after an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farmer were shot dead in attacks claimed by the Islamic State. Kamal said the culprits planned such an attack under a well drawn up design coinciding with the Shia Muslim mourning festival of Ashura so that the incident could be attributed to the ultra Sunni IS.
“For now, I would also like to tell you briefly that all the three incidents, the murder of the two foreign nationals and the blasts at the Husseini Dalan, are interlinked... the same group of people masterminded the attack to create instability and discredit our (ruling Awami League) government,” the minister said.
Police said three bombs were hurled at the procession joined by more than 20,000 people at around 1:30 am at Huseni Dalan, an important 17th century centre of learning for the Shia community. They said it was believed to be the first attack on the Shias in the Sunni-dominated Bangladesh, which has witnessed an increase in violence this year claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
Hours after the attack, the US-based Site Intelligence Group that monitors militant threats reported that the Islamic State claimed the responsibility for the bombing on the Shia shrine. The attack came hours after a suicide bombing at a Shia Muslim mosque in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province killed at least 12 people.
“But here in Bangladesh, there is a different motive behind the attack unlike Pakistan....the explosions at Husseini Dalan was carried out on Ashura to give it a colour of Sunni-Shia clash,” Kamal said.
Earlier too, Bangladesh authorities had rejected the claims that the IS was involved in the murder of two foreigners in the country and blamed a section of ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia’s BNP-led right-wing coalition with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami for the incident to create instability in the country. The US and the UK have condemned Saturday’s attacks.