The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Shia shrine in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Saturday that killed a 14-year-old and wounded more than 100, as thousands gathered for the annual Ashura procession.
The rare attack on Bangladesh’s small Shia Muslim community comes just weeks after an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farmer were shot dead in attacks also claimed by the IS jihadist group -- although authorities reject the claims.
On Saturday, attackers threw at least five homemade bombs at the gathering of Shia Muslims, leaving a teenager dead and more than 100 injured.
The attack took place at around 2am when around 25,000 Shia Muslims, including women and children, gathered at the Mughal era structure Huseni Dalan to start a procession to mark the holy Ashura.
Saturday was the 10th day of the holy month of Muharram that marks the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad. The community has been observing the day for centuries in Bangladesh, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims.
Colonel Ziaul Ahsan, a senior official of the anti-crime agency Rapid Action Battalion, said after the incident they had found two unexploded bombs, while three exploded at the scene. A doctor at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital told reporters a teenager boy died while many were injured but their condition was stable as mostly suffered minor injuries.
The IS claimed the killing on Twitter, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US monitoring organisation, but police said they had found no evidence to show the jihadists were behind the blasts.
“So far we have not found any link to any militant group in the attack,” Dhaka police spokesman Muntashirul Islam told AFP.
Television channels showed footage of the chaos in the aftermath of the blasts with fleeing people holding flags and ambulances taking the injured to hospital.
Authorities have yet to make any arrests in connection with the blasts but three people have been taken in for questioning, police inspector Mohammad Murad said.
Home Affairs minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told local media that authorities had video footage of the blasts and he hoped they could quickly track down the attackers.
Ashura marks the climax of the holy month of Muharram when Shiites hold processions and gatherings to mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Hussain at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq in 680 AD.
With inputs from AFP