Bangladesh blast victims
People who sustained injuries in a series of blasts are surrounded by their relatives at a hospital in DhakaReuters

A series of rare blasts targeting Shia Muslims left a 12-year-boy dead and injured more than 100 in the early hours of Saturday (24 October) in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Unidentified attackers hurled home-made bombs at Huseni Dalan, a centre of learning for the Shias, where close to 25,000 people had gathered.

"Five bombs were hurled at around 2 am of which three exploded. We've recovered the other two unexploded bombs. Given the nature of attacks, I think this has been done to create chaos in the country. But it is clear that it was a planned attack," Dhaka's senior police official Asaduzzamn Mia told AFP.

The blasts occurred at a time when police and other law-enforcment agencies have strengthened security in Dhaka for Durga Puja that ended on Thursday, 22 October, and for Ashura. Most of the injured are reported to be in stable condition at local hospitals or have been released within a few hours, according to Dr Nazimun Nesa of the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

While no one has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) said the bombs resembled the one recovered from a suspect now being questioned over a policeman's murder in Dhaka's Gabtoli area. On Thursday night, an assistant sub-inspector was stabbed to death at the check-post. The assailant fled but police arrested a man who was with him.

Shias are a small minority in the Sunni-dominated country but have seldom been discriminated against. However, the recent killings of two foreign nationals, an Italian and a Japanese, have been claimed by Islamic State (Isis) to whom many home-bred extremists have pledged allegiance. As Isis is known for its radical anti-Shia approach, experts believe such an isolated attack may have been done to disturb the peace in the country.