At least nine people, including lawyers and police, were killed by suicide bombers in attacks at the court premises in Chittagong and Gazipur, near Dhaka, Tuesday, police and witnesses said.
The attacks, believed to have been carried out by members of banned Islamist outfit Jamatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), also left more than 100 people injured.
But the JMB has not yet claimed the responsibility of carrying out the attacks.
A suicide squad member, posing as a lawyer, exploded bombs inside the bar library of Gazipur court building premises killing himself and five others, including two lawyers.
News agencies quoting unconfirmed reports put the death toll at 10 people at Gazipur. Witnesses said the bar library was wrecked by huge explosions that occurred at 9-30 am.
Twenty critically wounded people were rushed to hospitals in Dhaka. The lawyers were identified as Latifur Rahman and Golam Farooq. Another victim was identified as Abdul Basit (55), an ex-member of Union Parishad.
Advocate Amzad, former general secretary of Gazipur Bar Association, was in a critical condition. Conditions of two other lawyers Advocate Anisur Rahman Kajal and Advocate Jebunessa Amina were also serious and were rushed to Dhaka for treatment.
In Chittagong, three people, including two police men and one person identified as member of the JMB, were killed when a bomb exploded at the check post outside the Chittagong court building at 8-45 am, report news agencies.
They said two suicide-bombers, trying to enter the court premises, were challenged by police on duty at the check post. Suddenly a bomb exploded killing one of the suicide-bombers and two policemen on the spot. One of dead police constable was identified as Rajib Barua.
Several others, including eight policemen and one attacker, were injured in the explosion. To legs of the attacker were blown off in the blast. The critically injured attacker is fighting for his life at a city hospital.
Witnesses said panic spread in the port city and most of the vehicles went off the streets after the bomb attack.
One of dead police constable was identified as Rajib Barua (28), son of Shimul Barua of Aburkhil under Raojan upazila, and the other person could not be identified.
Police recovered a visiting card of a lawyer from his pocket, indicating that he might be a client of that lawyer.
The bomb was exploded at the main entry of the hill-top court building within the vicinity of the Deputy Commissioner's office, Collectorate's office, Kotwali police station and the Chittagong Metropolitan Police headquarters.
The panic-stricken judges and lawyers deserted the court building protesting the attack.
Witnesses said the bomb went off with such a big bang that the Chittagong city residents heard it from one and a half kilometres away.
One female police Rashida, who was standing just a few yards for scene, told reporters that as the police were preparing for duty with arms and metal detectors at the check post, the bomb suddenly went off throwing seven to eight police personnel to the ground. A thick black smoke shrouded the place of incident.
There were conflicting reports about how the bomb explosion took place. One of the versions claimed that the bomb suddenly went off when the suicide bomber was carrying it. But another source said that it exploded when an on-duty policeman was about to take the courier of the bomb, for a check by a metal detector.
Witnesses said a wide area near the scene was littered with human limbs, including a leg of the injured bomber.
Police shortly after the blast, apparently targeted on police, recovered a JMB leaflet from inside the garment of the suicide bomber.
"Those who are engaged in enforcing man-made judicial system instead of the 'Shariah' rule will be annihilated gradually," Commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan police Majedul Haq quoted the leaflet as saying.
High officials of the intelligence and law enforcing agencies, including RAB and police, visited the spot and cordoned the place of occurrence off with red ribbon.
The injured are identified as cops Mafuz, Saiful, Shamsul Kabir, Promotesh Barua, Sani Das, Rafiqul Islam, Prakash Chandra Das, Sreeman Barua, Lutfar Rahim and Havilder Serajul Haq, Shahajahan, Isha Sarkar and Abdul Majid and three civilians as Mohammad Razzak, Emdadul Haq and Rafique.
Intelligence officials said that the bomb was strapped to his body and might have blown off suddenly. But another source said that he was carrying the bomb in a bag, which was hurled at the police just before the checking.
But it was not clear whether the suicide attacker targeted the police or was heading towards the court building.
Judges and lawyers walked out of the courts across the country in protest and called a countrywide general strike for next Thursday.
The JMB says it is waging a jihad (holy war) against the present judicial system and for establishment of the 'Shariah' law in the country.