Bangladesh Police Foil Jailbreak Attempt by Islamic Militants

Jesmin Papri
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170307-BD-attack-620 Police inspect a site where two suspected militants allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at officers near a checkpoint along the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway in Comilla district, March 7, 2017.
Star Mail

Bangladesh police said Tuesday they had arrested three people in connection with a brazen attempt by Islamic militants to free the country's most-wanted militant leader from death row and an attack on a police checkpoint this week.

They hurled a petrol bomb on a prison van carrying Mufti Abdul Hannan, the founder of banned militant group Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) near Collegegate in the Tongi industrial area on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka on Monday, police said.

"Police on duty arrested one youth who threw Molotov bombs on the prison van," said the officer-in-charge of Tongi police station, Md Feroz Talukder.

The vehicle was able to return to prison even though several bombs went off.

"Police recovered one bag full of Molotov bombs from the youth," Md Feroz said.

The youth was a former student at an Islamic boarding school, Agence France-Presse quoted police as saying.

Hannan, who had been condemned to the gallows over an attempted assassination of the British High Commissioner in 2004, was among 19 prisoners in the van when it came under attack, Md. Feroz said.

Bangladesh's apex court, which has upheld the death sentence on Hannan, is expected to hear an appeal for review of the capital punishment soon.

Bangladesh had banned HuJI in 2005.

"The militant outfit has been weakened due to recent police operations. But the militants would try to get their leader back from the police with the hope for a new jihad," Mahfuzul Haque Marzan, a professor of criminology at Dhaka University, told BenarNews.

Police also said they arrested two suspected militants over an attack at a police checkpoint in the eastern sub-district of Chandina, in Comilla district, on Tuesday.

The suspects stormed out of a Chittagong-bound bus undergoing a security check and hurled petrol bombs when pursued by police, according to police sub-inspector Monirul Islam.

Police shot and captured one suspect while the other man, who was armed with a knife, was apprehended by local residents.

Bangladesh has seen an increase in Islamic militancy in recent years. The Islamic State and al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government has blamed local militant groups for the violence.

Bangladeshi government officials say home-grown militant groups were behind a spate of deadly attacks against secular writers and religious minorities as well as an attack on a café in Dhaka last year. It was the country’s deadliest ever terrorist act but was claimed by Islamic State.


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