Deadly blasts hit Shias marking Ashoura in Bangladesh

Twelve-year-old boy killed and dozens wounded in attack on procession of Shia Muslims in attack claimed by ISIL.

Bangladesh blast
Police said it was unclear who carried out the attacks [A M Ahad/AP]

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility for a series of blasts targeting Shia Muslims in Dhaka as they gathered for a procession in the Bangladesh capital to mark the holy day of Ashoura.

One person was killed in the attack, which occurred early on Saturday in the old part of Dhaka. About 100 others were injured.

Police cordoned off the area and were investigating the blasts, which they said were caused by improvised explosive devices. 

ISIL 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 group was 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.

Local police chief Aziz Ahmed said a 12-year-old boy died while the injured were being treated.

Insecurity grips minority groups in Bangladesh

Witnesses said that people ran frantically after blasts, losing their flip-flops and sandals as they scattered.

“It is our apprehension that blasts were carried out only to panic the people and to create a chaotic situation,” Colonel Ziaul Ahsan, an additional director general of the elite Rapid Action Battalion, told reporters.

At least 10 people were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, and most of them were in a stable condition, according to Nazimunnesa, a deputy director.

Attacks on the Shia minority have been rare in Sunni majority Bangladesh.

The explosions came a day after at least 22 people were killed during a procession to mark Ashoura in the Pakistani province of Sindh.

The blast on Friday, which struck worshippers in the city of Jacobabad, also left 30 people wounded.

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, said more than 10,000 extra police officers had been deployed to guard Shia processions during Ashoura.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies