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Islamic State claims responsibility for Bangladesh bombings on Shias

Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for bombings that targeted Shias in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on Saturday, the monitor group SITE said.

It cited Islamic State as saying “soldiers of the Caliphate in Bangladesh” detonated explosive devices in Dhaka during “polytheist rituals”. Islamic State — an ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group that sees Shias as apostates — claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier on Saturday, a series of blasts killed at least one person and wounded dozens as Shia Muslims gathered for a procession in the old part of Bangladesh’s capital to mark the holy day of Ashura, police said.

However, Bangladesh’s interior minister told Reuters that no militants were involved and the blasts were not linked to an attack that killed 16 people at a Shia procession in Pakistan hours earlier.

Police cordoned off the area and one officer said four suspects had been arrested. Witnesses said people fled after blasts, losing their flip-flops and sandals in the panic.

Attacks on the Shia minority have been rare in Sunni-majority Bangladesh, but Sunni militant groups have become more active.

“This is not a militant attack, rather it is a planned and destructive attack aiming only to destabilize the situation of the country,” interior minister Asaduzzaman Khan told Reuters. “Though the attack came hours after a suicide bombing in Pakistan, we strongly believe the situation is not similar at all as we live peacefully with Shia community,” he said.

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