Dhaka, Jul 25 : Eight people have been killed in mob attacks in Bangladesh after false rumours about child abductions spread online, police said on Thursday.
The victims were targeted over rumours that human sacrifices were needed to build the Padma Bridge,south of the capital Dhaka. Rumours claimed children were being beheaded as offerings to the $3bn (£2.4bn) project. Vigilante groups in turn lynched people they suspected of kidnappings.
"None of the victims was involved in child abduction," police chief Javed Patwary told media in Dhaka.
Taslima Begum, a single mother of two children aged 11 and four, was among the eight people killed. More than 30 people were reportedly attacked over the rumours.
Eight people were arrested over Begum's murder, and five were being held in connection with the rumours.
On Saturday, Begum, 42, was beaten to death outside a school in Dhaka by a mob who suspected her of being a child kidnapper. "Locals became suspicious of Ms Begum after she visited the school to enquire about the admission of her children," witnesses told UMI.
A teacher who witnessed her murder said, "We could do nothing against the wave of people attacking her."The other victims were a man in his 30s, beaten by a mob in Keraniganj last Thursday, and a woman in her 30s, assaulted by a mob in Savar on Saturday.
The rumours, local media reported, started circulating on social media networks about two weeks ago. They were mostly spread in posts on Facebook and videos on YouTube.
One report claimed a young man had been found allegedly carrying the severed head of a child in Bangladesh's northern district of Netrokona.
The posts on Facebook, according to local media, said that child abductors are on the prowl to collect heads and blood for the construction of Padma Bridge.At a press conference on Wednesday, Patwary said the posts were being spread deliberately to "create unrest in the country", without elaborating on the culprits.In rural towns, officers are using loudspeakers in an attempt to drown out the rumours.(UNI)