Bangladesh Probing Deadly Knife Attack at Dhaka Airport

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
161107-BD-airport-security-620.jpg Security checks at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport have increased following the stabbing death of Shohag Ali on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2016.
Star Mail

Bangladeshi investigators do not know what led to the stabbing death of an on-duty airport security officer in Dhaka, prompting an analyst to question security at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

A man who had been loitering in the airport’s departure terminal allegedly killed Ansar (paramilitary security) officer Shohag Ali, and injured two others before being overpowered by the airport security team on Sunday evening. The alleged attacker, who was in his early 20s, was identified as Shihab although police expressed doubt about the name, local media reported.

Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon told BenarNews that Shihab’s motive was not known.

“He hails from Rajshahi (in North Bengal). The intention of the attack is still unclear as we cannot interrogate him,” Nure Azam Miah, the officer-in-charge of the airport police station told BenarNews on Monday.

“Today we filed a murder case against him. Currently he has been undergoing treatment at the Dhaka Medical College. Once he recovers he will be produced before the court,” Miah said.

‘Catch, catch’

Security officer Ashraful Islam told BenarNews that the attacker, who was wearing a yellow jacket resembling the uniform of a cleaning company, was seen loitering at the airport around 6:45 p.m. Sunday. Miah said Shihab was not an employee of the company.

“We chased him shouting ‘catch, catch.’ Then he ran toward another gate at the departure terminal. Shohag caught him and he stabbed Shohag,” Islam said.

Other security officers encircled and shot at the attacker, who stabbed two other security officers before being shot in his thigh. Islam said he and other colleagues took Shohag to a hospital where the doctors declared him dead.

Menon said airport security was increased following the attack. “We had not seen any attack at our airports. So entry of visitors was restricted at the airport area and passengers and their vehicles are screened in front of the road leading to the airport,” he said.

On Monday, passengers reacted to the change.

“We welcome a good security system, but the on-duty police and Ansar personnel have been harassing the passengers on the pretext of screening [them]. I did show my tickets, but they stopped my car and asked unnecessary questions,” Saiful Islam, a Dubai bound passenger, told BenarNews on Monday.

“People may get angry,” an officer checking vehicles told BenarNews. “We have our instructions.”

Security analyst retired Brig. Sakhawat Hossain said that police should tell the public about the incident.

“This is difficult to assume the motive of the attacker. But whatever the reason may be, the attack has exposed the weak security system at our airports,” he said.

He said many people are at the airport picking up passengers or seeing them off as they leave. Security personnel could not screen all of them.

“What is the justification of allowing wholesale visitors at an airport? This must stop. The UK and Australia put up restrictions on cargo flights taking off from Dhaka. This incident demonstrates that they had reasons to worry,” Hossain said.

In March, the United Kingdom banned direct cargo flights from Dhaka after receiving reports of a terrorist plot. In announcing the indefinite ban, British transport officials said their government was working with Bangladeshi authorities “to support them in improving standards for all aspects of aviation security.”


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