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Bangladesh 11 July 2006

Independent weekly hit by two bombs after threats from radical movement

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the failure of the police to take any action in response to threats received by editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury prior to the bombing of his independent newspaper, the Weekly Blitz, in Dhaka on 5 July. Two bombs went off causing minor damage and no injuries, while two other unexploded devices were found inside the premises.

“The death threats against Choudhury and his newspaper by Mufti Noor Hussain Noorani should have led to Noorani’s arrest and the deployment of protective measures, especially as this is one of the continent’s most dangerous countries for journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We call for the immediate arrest of those responsible for the bombing, as well as police protection for the newspaper and its staff,” the organisation added.

Noorani, who heads the radical movement Khatmey Nabuat (KNM), threatened Choudhury and the Weekly Blitz by telephone on 29 June after it ran an editorial criticising KNM’s attacks on the Muslim group Ahamdiyya. Choudhury reported the threats to the police, but the report was “mislaid” and no measures were taken to protect him.

Choudhury advocates dialogue between religions and recognition of Israel. He is currently being tried on a charge of sedition, which carries the death penalty, for writing about the media’s role in the dialogue between Muslims and Jews and about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh. His trial is to resume on 13 July.

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