Bangladesh blames Islamists for 2004 rally attack

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DHAKA, Oct 31 (Reuters) The outlawed Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (HUJI) group was responsible for a deadly grenade attack on a Bangladesh opposition rally in Dhaka three years ago, security officials said today.

''Now can now confirm who carried out the bombing,'' said a senior official of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) force after weekend raids on suspected militant hideouts.

''Some of the people detained for suspected involvement in the attack have confessed their direct role.'' The attack at a rally held by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka on August. 21, 2004 killed 23 people and injured over 150.

The RAB captured 12 militants and seized 16 grenades, four automatic firearms and 60 kgs of explosives during raids on different hideouts in western Bangladesh on Sunday.

The raids were conducted after a HUJI militant leader detained earlier was interrogated for his suspected involvement in a grenade attack Mufti Hannan was arrested late year during a hunt for suspected Islamists who launched a series of bombings including suicide attacks, between August and December 2005 that killed at least 30 people and wounded 150.

Those bombings were blamed on two outlawed Islamist groups -- Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh -- who want to turn the mainly Muslim democracy into a sharia-based Islamic state.

Six top leaders of the two groups were executed in March this year, but security officials say many of their followers are still active and trying to regroup.

REUTERS ARB RK1555

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