The Islamic State (IS) group claims it killed a policeman at a highway checkpoint near Dhaka on Wednesday, according to SITE Intelligence Group, whose reports about recent attacks in Bangladesh have riled its home minister.
Constable Mukul Hossain was killed by two machete-wielding men on a motorbike as he manned a checkpoint on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway in Savar, a Dhaka suburb, police said. Four other policemen were injured in the attack.
SITE, a U.S.-based firm that monitors jihadist online messaging and social media traffic, reported the IS claim of responsibility on its website later in the day. The police officer’s killing brought to four the number of deadly attacks claimed by IS in Bangladesh since late September, according to SITE’s reporting.
Apart from Wednesday’s attack, IS has claimed responsibility since Sept. 28 for the shootings deaths of two foreigners in separate incidents, and the bombing of a Shiite procession in Dhaka that left two people dead and scores more wounded.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has repeatedly rejected SITE’s reporting about the claims, saying that IS has no presence in Bangladesh and accusing the firm of trying to “defame the country.”
All four attacks, as well as the Oct. 31 attacks on two publishing houses that left a publisher of secular books dead and three others wounded, were ‘inter-linked,” Khan told BenarNews on Wednesday.
They were carried out by home-grown Islamist groups bent on destabilizing the country and trying to derail the trials of suspected criminals from Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, he said.
“SITE should come up with concrete proof of IS’s presence. Similarly, the government should take SITE’s claim seriously and verify whether the IS is clandestinely active in Bangladesh,” Kamrul Hasan, a student at Dhaka University, told BenarNews.
“We can in no way let our country fall into the hand of the militants,” he added. “The people in the past resisted the militants. This time, too, the common people will do so.”
Protests were staged in Dhaka for a fifth straight day Thursday over the killing Saturday of publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan, and a separate attack that same day that wounded publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul and writers Tareq Rahim and Rantadipam Basu.
Activists with the Gonojagoron Moncho (Mass Awakening Platform) movement marched and carried coffins, as they demanded authorities bring to justice the people who perpetrated the Oct. 31 attacks and the killings of five secular bloggers since February 2013.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi civil aviation authorities have increased security at all of the nation’s major airports, including international hubs in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. Canine units with the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) paramilitary force have been deployed in recent days to detect explosives that may be concealed in passengers’ luggage, officials said.
“Given the violent activities going on across the country, we have enhanced the security measures in and around all airports. The dog squad of the BGB has been deployed as part of the additional security measures,” Mustafizur Rahman, a civil aviation official, told BenarNews.