Thursday, August 18, 2005

More Than 100 Bombs Explode Across Bangladesh; Two Killed

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- More than 100 homemade bombs planted by suspected Islamic militants exploded nearly simultaneously across Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing two people, including a young boy, and wounding at least 125.

About 50 people were arrested, the state-run Bangladesh News Agency reported. There was no assertion of responsibility, but leaflets from a banned group seeking the imposition of Islamic law were found at many of the scenes. Bangladesh is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation governed by secular laws.

Police said the bombs apparently were designed to cause limited damage. The blasts killed a rickshaw driver in the northern town of Chapainawabganj and a 10-year-old in the central town of Savar.

The blasts caused panic and massive traffic jams in a number of cities as people fled for safety. Security was stepped up, with police deploying to major intersections to check vehicles and pedestrians for bombs.

The leaflets came from Jumatul Mujaheddin, which was outlawed this year for alleged involvement in a spate of killings, robberies and bomb attacks.

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· BOGOTA, Colombia -- More than 100 Ecuadorans trying to illegally migrate to the United States drowned late last week when the overcrowded fishing boat they were traveling aboard sank in the Pacific Ocean, authorities said.

The boat, designed to hold 15 people, was carrying 113 when it sank off the coast of Colombia, an Ecuadoran navy spokesman said. The boat had left the port of Manta, Ecuador, on Thursday, he said.

Nine people survived days in the water by clinging to wreckage before being rescued by fishermen Tuesday, the Colombian navy said. The boat sank on Friday or Saturday, officials said.

· BRASILIA -- Thousands of protesters demanded that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva step down over a deepening corruption scandal, but the president said he had a clean conscience.

Demonstrators carrying banners reading "Lula Out!" marched through the capital, Brasilia, in the first mass protest against Lula since allegations surfaced in June that his aides and the ruling Workers' Party bribed lawmakers to back legislation. Police estimated the crowd at 12,000 people.

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