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BANGLADESH: 4 journalists hurt in blast in Khulna

Explosion on Press Club premises leaves one journlaist battling for life

The Daily Star
Sunday, February 6, 2005

Khulna -- Four journalists including Khulna Press Club President Sheikh Abu Hasan were wounded, one critically, in a powerful bomb explosion on the press club premises last night in another attack on newsmen in this region.

The other injured are Sheikh Belaluddin Ahmed, bureau chief of daily Sangram, Sheikh Jahid Hossain, staff photographer of daily Jugantor, and Tutul Ahmed, staff reporter of daily Loksomaj, published from Jessore.

Of them, the condition of Belaluddin, also president of Metropolitan Journalists Union (MJU), was stated to be most critical. With critical burns all over the body, he underwent a surgery at midnight. Doctors amputated his wrist.

Five journalists were killed in Khulna district alone in the last 10 years. Daily Janmabhumi Editor Humayun Kabir Balu and New Age Bureau Chief Manik Saha were the recent victims in this outlaws-prone southwestern region.

Witnesses said Belaluddin along with Abu Hasan, also bureau chief of daily Prothom Alo, and Jahid was heading for their motorbikes parked in the lawn of the press club at around 9:15pm when Belaluddin saw a bag on his motorbike.

Surprised to see the bag hung on the right handle of his bike, Belaluddin said, "Who left the bag on my motorcycle?" As soon as he touched the bag, the witnesses said, a bomb kept inside it exploded with a bang.

The three journalists, along with Tutul, a reporter of daily Loksomaj who was standing near the motorbike, were injured in the blast.

The police suspect someone might have kept the one or more bombs there intentionally to kill the journalists. A police officer said the bombs might have been exploded by a remote control device when the 'target' reached there.

Two motorbikes of Belaluddin and Jahid were burnt in the blast, said witnesses, adding that the bombs were so powerful that it also damaged wall of the club, windows of the newly constructed canteen and some furniture of the club.

Firefighters rushed to the spot and doused the fire in 20 minutes.

Belaluddin, whose right palm was blown in the explosion, was rushed to Khulna Medical College and Hospital (KMCH), while the rest were admitted to Nishu Clinic, adjacent to the club.

No police patrol

Witnesses said there was no police patrol in front of the press club during the incident though the police were usually posted there.

The newly appointed superintendent of police (SP) of the district while visiting the club on January 29 assured the journalists of providing them with security on the club premises until 10:00pm every day.

Panic gripped the journalists' community after last night's bomb attack as outlawed groups had been repeatedly threatening them in the region.

Injured's Condition

Doctors at the KMCH amputated the severely injured wrist of Belaluddin. He lost a lot of blood, said the doctors stating that his condition was still critical.

Jahid, who received splinters all over the body, has been shifted to Khulna Surgical Clinic last night.

Local MP Mia Golam Parwar, brother-in-law of Belaluddin, Deputy Commissioner Mahbubur Rahman, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police MA Azizur Sarker and SP Habibur Rahman visited the spot. Later, they and other journalists rushed to the hospitals to see the injured.

The DIG termed the incident 'tragic' and told reporters that security has been beefed up in the city. Police have been posted at all the sensitive points in the region and at the club, he added.

Protests

Khulna Press Club, Khulna Union of Journalists, Metropolitan Union of Journalists, Liakat Ali, editor of daily Purbanchal, Begum Ferdousi Ali, editor of Daily Tribune, and other journalists strongly protested the bomb attack.

Previous casualties

Humayun Kabir Balu, editor of daily Janmabhumi, was killed in a bomb attack at his house-cum-office on Haji Ismail Road in the city on June 27 last year that also left his son Asif Kabir and another journalist injured.

Manik Saha, bureau chief of the New Age, died in another bomb attack in front of the club on January 15 last year.

Sheikh Haroon-ar-Rashid of daily Purbanchal was killed in the city in 2002, while another two journalists -- Nahor Ali and Shukur Hossain -- of daily Anirvan were killed in 2001.

Deep Azad, Khulna bureau chief of daily Juganjtor, was injured in a grenade attack recently in the city.

Asia Institute