Cocktail bomb explodes outside Mukherjee's Dhaka hotel

Ranjana Narayan   |  Dhaka


A crude cocktail bomb was hurled Monday by two motorcycle-borne youths at the hotel where Indian President Pranab Mukherjee is staying. No one was injured in the "minor explosion".

The minor explosion took place on the second day of Mukherjee's Bangladesh visit as three more people were killed in clashes between protesting Islamists and the police on day two of a strike called by the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The small cocktail bomb explosion took place outside the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon where Mukherjee is staying.

Indian officials described it as a "minor explosion" and said it was a common occurrence during hartals.

Officials said a small cocktail bomb was flung by two motorcycle borne men outside the hotel. Mukherjee had returned for lunch to the hotel after a convocation ceremony at the Dhaka University.

In a statement, the press secretary to the president said that "life in and around the hotel in Dhaka where the president is staying is completely normal.

None of the delegation members heard any explosion nor knew of any such incident.

"The Bangladesh authorities informed the Indian delegation of the crude cocktail that was found and a probe is on," the statement said.

"Indian security officials have expressed the view that this was a minor explosion. Bursting of such cocktails are common in Bangladesh during hartals and cannot be described as a bomb."

Dhaka Metropolitan Police official Chowdhury Mozurul Kabir told Indian newspersons that it was a small firecracker, aimed to create panic and enforce the hartal.

"It was a small (fire) cracker. The explosion took place at 2 p.m., on the middle of the road away from the hotel," said Kabir.

The Jamaat-e-Islami has called a two-day strike from Sunday to protest the death sentence to Jamaat chief Delwar Hossain Sayedee for the 1971 war crimes, including rape and genocide. Over 70 people have been killed in clashes since the Thursday sentence handed down by a war crimes tribunal.

Three more people died in fresh clashes in Shatkheera and in Sirazganj by protesting Jamaat members Monday, taking the toll since last Thursday to over 70.

The incident comes a day after opposition leader Khaleda Zia, in an apparent snub, called off a meeting with Mukherjee. The Bangladesh National Party chief and former chief minister was to meet Mukherjee Monday evening.

She had met him last year during her India visit. Her party is in alliance with the Jamaat. – IANS