Bangladesh: 2 Suspected Militants Killed in Blast

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
160404-BD-grenade-620.jpg Masks like these created by Faculty of Fine Arts students to celebrate Pahela Boishakh will be banned this year over fears of attacks by militants, April 5, 2014.

Two men believed to be members of a banned militant outfit were killed while assembling grenades as Bangladeshis prepared to celebrate the country’s largest cultural festival, the Pahela Boishakh, officials said Monday.

The two died in an explosion Sunday night in northern city of Bogra, as they were preparing to carry out attacks, police said.

Police recovered a sack of explosive gel, at least 20 handmade grenades, four foreign-made pistols and bullets from a house in Bogra’s Sherpur sub-district, Bogra superintendent of police Md Asad-uz-Zaman told BenarNews on Monday.

As a preventive measure, the government banned the wearing of traditional masks in Pahela Boishakh (first day of the Bengali calendar) rallies scheduled for April 14.

“The two were making grenades at a rented house in Sherpur (sub-district). One of them lost his hand and the other lost his leg as grenades exploded. One of them asked for water before breathing his last, while the other was unconscious when we took them to the hospital,” Asad-uz-Zaman said.

The man who asked for water did not identify himself to officers. Asad-uz-Zaman said the suspects were 25 to 26 years old.

Man who rented house missing

“They were preparing for a big attack as one of their accomplices rented the house six months ago,” the superintendent said, adding that auto-rickshaw driver Mizanur Rahman, who rented the house, had gone into hiding.

Local resident Abdul Baten told BenarNews that area residents used to see a woman wearing a veil and a man living in the house owned by Mahbubur Rahman, who lives in Dhaka and is not related to the tenant. He said he also saw the two dead men at the house.

“We suddenly heard a huge explosion at around 9:30 p.m. The firefighters came to the house and called the police to take them to the hospital,” Baten said.

Asad-uz-Zaman said the weapons and ammunition recovered from the house were similar to those recovered from a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) house in December.

“So, we suspect that they were the JMB members,” he said.

On Dec. 24, police in Dhaka recovered at least 20 hand grenades, suicide vests and bomb making materials from a rented house Mirpur area. Police said the JMB was preparing to attack Christmas Day celebrations.

Bangladesh’s tiny Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic militants in a spate of attacks dating to last year.

Restriction on Pahela Boishakh

Meanwhile, authorities have declared a curfew on the upcoming festivities.

“The Pahela Boishakh celebration must end by 5 p.m. and we have decided to ban the use of masks for security reasons. By wearing masks, anyone can mix with the stream of people and carry out attacks,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews on Monday.

On Sunday, he chaired a home ministry meeting on Pahela Boishakh. He said police and intelligence officials would be in the field to thwart any attempt to harm revelers.

Every April 14, people from all walks of life pour on to the streets of Dhaka and other parts of country to welcome the first day of the Bengali calendar.

Cultural organizations across the country, including Chhayanaut, organize programs beginning at dawn to welcome the first sunrise of Boishakh.

In 2001, the Chhayanaut celebration at Dhaka’s Ramna Botomul was attacked by the militant outfit Harkat-ul Jihad, which branded Pahela Boishakh a celebration against Islam. At least 10 people were killed and the mastermind, Abdul Hannan, is now in jail.


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