October 18 1971

Dacca guerrillas start offensive

By Martin Woollacott

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Dacca, October 17. New guerrilla groups infiltrated into the Dacca area in the last three weeks have begun a vigorous offensive, disrupting the calm which followed the bombing of the Intercontinental Hotel early in September. The new groups tried to shell Dacca airport. At Dacca’s satellite port they exploded bulk gas pipes and burnt a huge quantity of jute awaiting shipment. As part of their campaign to close educational institutions, they bombed the university medical school after warning students to leave. One girl missed the warning and was seriously hurt.

The guerrillas are also thought responsible for the killing, four days ago, of Mr. Abdul Monem Khan, who was Governor of East Pakistan under President Ayub Khan. Some non-Bangladesh university groups had hoped he would return to politics. But some believed the killing may have been an act of private revenge. In a development ominous for the United Nations, a grenade was hurled two nights ago at their headquarters in a Dacca suburb. But it did not explode. The most worrying incident for the military authorities was the attempted attack on the airport. The three-inch bombs, in fact, fell on the cholera laboratory. There was much perplexity about this until it was realised that the laboratory is in a direct line with the airfield, and that the shells, which must have been fired without a forward observer to correct the aim, had fallen only 600 yards short of the field.

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