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5 killed in grenade attack in Bangladesh

A grenade exploded at a rally in northeastern Bangladesh on Thursday, killing at least five people including the country’s former finance minister, officials said. Dozens were injured.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A grenade exploded at an opposition rally in northeastern Bangladesh Thursday, killing at least five people including the country’s former finance minister, and wounding dozens of others, officials said.

“There was a big bang as we were about to leave the rally. I saw several people screaming in pain,” said Shahid Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Awami League. “The hospitals here are struggling to treat so many injured people.”

Former finance minister Shah Mohammad Kibria, now an opposition lawmaker, had just finished speaking at the rally when the grenade detonated, said Mansurddin Iqbal, a local reporter.

Kibria died late Thursday en route to a hospital, doctors said.

Officials said there had been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Awami League — led by the country’s former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — called for a nationwide general strike to condemn the attack, the party said.

After the explosion in Habiganj district, about 75 miles northeast of the capital Dhaka, several hundred opposition members took to the streets in protest, smashing vehicles and attacking shops, witnesses said. Authorities put additional police on patrol to quell the violence.

In August, a grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka killed 21 people and injured more than 300. Sheikh Hasina, who escaped unharmed, blamed the government for that attack.

The government denied involvement and condemned the attack — but failed to make any headway in catching those responsible.