No justice over church bombing nine years on

| June 4, 2010

Nine years after a deadly bomb blast struck a Catholic parish in Bangladesh’s southern Khulna diocese, victims and their family members are still waiting for justice.

On June 3, 2001 a suspected extremist group set off a massive bomb at Most Holy Redeemer Church in Baniarchar, Gopalgonj district. The attack during Sunday mass left 10 Massgoers dead and about 30 injured.

Catholic couple Sukhranjan and Anna Halder cannot forget the loss their only son, Sumon, 24.

“I was few meters behind Sumon when the blast hit. It killed him and knocked me senseless. Later doctors removed a huge splinter from my head”, recounted Sukhranjan, 67, a parish cook for 30 years.

Sumon Halder, who was married just five months prior to the attack, was an energetic youth activist involved in education, sports and Church activities.

The bomb struck just as he approached the stand for the second Mass reading.

“We dreamt of a happy life with our son and his family, but the bomb destroyed everything,” says his mother Anna, now 55, crying.

“I’ve almost lost hope for justice,” Sumon’s father added. “After the attack we provided information to the police. But justice has not been done,” he sighed.

Twenty-three old choir member Sanjibon Baroi was another of those killed.

“Government compensation cannot replace my son. We want a proper investigation and punishment of the culprits”, said his mother Mary Baroi, 50.

The blast struck in the church’s choir area where mostly young people sat, many of whom were also the only children of their parents.

An initial government commission concluded that an internal feud between Christians was behind the blast. Local media refuted the report and a fresh probe was begun. It is still incomplete.

The head of an Islamic militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad. Mufti Hannan, later claimed responsibility.

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Category: Church Security

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