The death toll from the bomb explosions at a decade-old fair in a remote village in Shakhipur, Tangail, rose to seven yesterday. The horrible incident in which another 15 were injured, three critically, left villagers in a trauma.
Two bombs went off in a span of two to three minutes Friday night. Hundreds of panic-stricken people ran for safety from the venue of the fair at a shrine.
"We were scared as many were fearing more blasts," said Arjuman Ali, a villager.
The dead are Abdul Gani, 55, caretaker of the shrine, his eight-year-old grandson Selim Mia, Almat Kha, 45, Jalil Mridha alias Kalu, 50, Jalaluddin, 25, Anisur Rahman, 27 and Nazimuddin, 45.
Three died on the spot and the rest in different hospitals in Tangail and Dhaka.
Of the injured, eight were admitted to Tangail Sadar Hospital, three to Shakhipur Health Complex and four to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
Police arrested nine people: Abdur Rashid, Sanwar Hossain, Abdul Jalil, Julhas Uddin, Kawsar Mia, Sabuj Mia, Masud Rana, Lutfar Rahman and Mockbul Hossain. Police sent them to the court after interrogation yesterday, seeking remand for them.
Witnesses said the first explosion took place inside the shrine at around 8:45pm when the caretaker of the shrine, his grandson and several others were inside.
"I heard a big bang and saw several people in a pool of blood. One of them had his leg blown off," said 15-year-old Sumon who was hanging out in the shrine area.
"I ran for cover when the second bomb went off in a makeshift cottage in front of the shrine," he told The Daily Star.
Later, the villagers and police took the injured to the hospitals.
Villagers said a police team from the Shakhipur Police Station was present at the shrine when the incident took place.
Despite the dreadful incident, a large number of devotees gathered to make offerings at the shrine in the Dariapur hilly area, 72 kilometres northwest of Dhaka, yesterday.
Locally known as the Failya Paglar Mela, the fair, the largest in greater Mymensingh, is held in Dariapur village every year.
Although the motive behind the bomb blasts is unknown, many said that there was a feud over the land of the shrine and proceeds from the annual fair.
"A section of people was trying to grab the land but failed due to the caretaker of the shrine and his followers," said an elderly villager.
By contrast, many villagers said the reason behind the bomb blasts in such a remote village is not merely the feud over land-grab.
Led by Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ashraful Huda, a six-member team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), including explosives expert Inspector Mansur Ali Mondol and finger and footprints expert Faridul Islam and CID Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) visited the area yesterday.
The team leader told The Daily Star last night that they collected shrapnel and splinters to determine the nature of the bombs. "We also interrogated witnesses to the incident and local police," he said.
"Preliminary investigations suggest that it might have been the result of an internal feud among the people in charge of the shrine. A huge amount of money is collected every year during the seven-day Urs," Huda said.
Two cases -- one for murder and the other for explosives -- have been filed with the Shakhipur Police Station.
Meanwhile, Haris Chowdhury, political secretary to the prime minister, has blamed the bomb blasts on the opposition political parties.
In an interview with BBC Radio yesterday, he said, "Those conspiring against the state and busy tarnishing the image of the country have a hand in the incident."
"Although it is still under investigation, Reuters stringer Enam Chowdhury's statement makes it clear that a certain quarter is conspiring against the state."
Police were guarding the shrine area.