DHAKA: A low intensity crude cocktail bomb exploded today outside a hotel here, where President Pranab Mukherjee is staying, during a general strike in Bangladesh called by fundamentalist Jamaat-Islami to protest the conviction of three of its top leaders for 1971 war crimes.
Mukherjee was inside the Sonargaon Pan-Pacific hotel when the incident took place around 2 P.M. at SAARC Fountain, about 100 yards away from the hotel in central Dhaka, Deputy Commissioner of Police of Tejgaon Police Station Chowdhury Manzurul Kabir told Indian journalists.
Apoorva Hassan, the officer in-charge of Tejgaon police station, said two persons came on a motorcycle and hurled the bomb wrapped in a cap near the SAARC fountain.
Kabir said there was no casualty in the incident.
He said there was no security threat to the President and the “cracker explosion” was just an attempt to enforce the 48-hour strike which entered the second day today.
Biplob Sarker, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Tejgaon), said Mukherjee’s wife Suvra was at Gonobhaban, the official residence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during the blast.
Shortly before the explosion, Mukherjee returned to the hotel after accepting an honorary law degree from Dhaka University and visiting the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Museum in Dhanmondi in central part of the Bangladesh capital.
Security has been further beefed up around the hotel.
Kabir said law enforcers could not arrest anyone in connection with the incident but “we are trying to arrest the miscreants”.
He said, “It was a simple cracker explosion and there is nothing to worry”. Such crackers are sometimes set off to enforce strikes in Bangladesh, Kabir added.
Asked about the security arrangement at the hotel, Sarker said the hotel where President Mukherjee is staying was secured properly.
Indian security officials sought to play down the explosion.
In a statement, President Mukherjee’s Press Secretary Venu Rajamony said: “Bangladesh authorities have informed that about an hour back a crude cocktail was found and they are investigating into the matter”. -PTI