Bangladesh: Suicide Bomber Injures 2 RAB Officers

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
2017.03.17
Dhaka
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170317-BD-militant-620.jpg Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion members guard the gate to a camp in the Ashkona neighborhood of Dhaka after an attempted suicide bombing, March 17, 2017.
AFP

A suspected militant blew himself up Friday when officers approached him after he had infiltrated a Dhaka-area camp of Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) security force, officials said.

They said two RAB officers were injured in the blast that occurred around the time of Friday afternoon prayers, after the suspect had entered the compound by climbing a wall of the camp in Dhaka’s Ashkona neighborhood.

The incident occurred amid some recent acts of violent militant activity and a day after five militants and a toddler, including at least one suicide bomber, were killed during police raids in Chittagong and Brahmanbaria districts.

“The local militants are not totally eliminated, but these are stray incidents. They are carrying out attacks as they are on the verge of destruction,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews on Friday.

The extremist group Islamic State claimed through its Amaq news agency that an IS fighter carried out Friday’s suicide bombing, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

“Around 1 p.m. at the time of Friday prayers, an unknown person entered the compound scaling the right-side wall, which is made of an iron grill and concrete wall. He tried to escape as RAB members challenged him and the explosion took place immediately,” RAB spokesman Mufit Mahmud Khan told reporters.

“He died as the bomb he was carrying exploded, and two RAB members were injured,” the spokesman said, adding the attacker had no other weapons.

The RAB members were treated at a military hospital in Dhaka for non-life threatening injuries.

“We have taken the fingerprint of the attacker. It will be matched with the national database to find out his identity and the outfit he belonged to,” Kamal told BenarNews.

Alerts to airports, prisons

The attack in the Ashkona neighborhood adjacent to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport prompted the aviation and prison authorities to issue alerts at all airports and jails.

Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon told BenarNews the alert was issued to thwart any potential militant attacks.

“Our security regime in and around the airport is quite tight. But we have issued the alert as extra care so militants can in no way cause sabotage,” he said.

The home minister alerted prisons about the threat of militant activity as the government prepares for the possible execution of Harkatul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI) founder Mufti Abdul Hannan.

In 2001, HuJI carried out an attack in Dhaka. A year earlier, Hannan allegedly planned to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by planting a bomb at the helipad where her helicopter was to land.

In 2004, HuJI members carried out a grenade attack in Sylhet on the British High Commissioner, Anwar Choudhury. The envoy survived the attack that killed two bystanders.

Hannan has been sentenced to death and, earlier this month, suspected militants attempted to help the HuJI leader escape from jail by hurling Molotov cocktails on a prison van transporting him and other inmates on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Friday’s suicide attack followed a bloody denouement a day earlier to a police operation that began on Wednesday and targeted a suspected den of the Neo-JMB – a group that police have blamed for a terrorist attack that left 20 hostages dead at a Dhaka café last year, and which was claimed by IS.

On Thursday, special weapons and tactical (SWAT) officers killed four suspected members of Neo-JMB, including a woman, during a raid in Sitakunda municipality. A small boy, believed to be the child of the female militant, died during the raid and at least one militant blew himself up.

A fifth militant, identified as Tajul Islam Mahmud (alias Mama Hujur), one of seven regional HuJI leaders, was killed Thursday in a gunfight with police in Brahmanbaria district while other suspected militants escaped.

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