Cop killed, three JMB militants snatched

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An armed terror group ambushed a prison van in film style and snatched away three convicted militants of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh killing a police constable in the attack in Trishal on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway on Sunday morning.
The three members of the banned militant outfit, JMB, were being taken to a Mymensingh court in the prison van from Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur. Only four policemen, including the driver, were carrying the three convicted militants.
The security forces were put on alert in the borders immediately after the incident to prevent the two other fugitives from crossing the frontiers, state minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters.
The militants snatched were Salahuddin alias Salehin, Raquibul Hasan alias Hafiz Mahmud and Jahidul Islam alias Mizan.
Police constable Atikul Islam, aged around 30, was killed on the spot and sub-inspector Habibur Rahman, 44, and constable Sohel Rana, 30, sustained bullet wounds as they tried to resist the terrors.
Of the three absconding convicts, Salauddin and Raquib were awarded
death sentence and Jahidul was serving life in jail for their involvement in the bomb attacks across the country in 2005.
Tangail police arrested Raquibul Hasan from Taktarchala of Shakhipur upazila around 4:30pm, six hours after his escape, said Hasibul Alam, acting police superintendent of Tangail. He had shaved his face after escaping from the prison van, the police added.
Earlier, police had arrested another militant, Zakaria, who had participated in the prison van break, and seized the black microbus, which was used in the operation, from Sakhipur. Police also seized a pistol and five rounds of bullet from his possession.
Around an hour after the incident, Zakaria crashed his microbus into a CNG-run auto-rickshaw while desperately trying to avoid a police checkpoint after the incident, said New Age correspondent in Tangail.
Kashimpur jail-1 superintendent Jamil Ahmed said that Salahuddin, Mizan and Raquibul had been kept in three different jails – Kashimpur Jail-1 and Jail-2 and the High Security Jail respectively – since their conviction.
On Sunday, they were picked up after 8:30am from the Kashimpur jail. The prison van started for Mymensingh as the JMB militants were scheduled to be produced before a court there in connection with a sedition case filed on March 11, 2006.
The prison van driver, Sabuj Mia said that they were carrying the three convicted militants to a Mymensingh court. As the van reached Signboard area of Trishal, two microbuses blocked the way from the front and behind. They fired indiscriminately and hurled several crude bombs before breaking into the van.
Gafargaon circle assistant superintendent of police Mustafizur Rahman said 15-20 armed terrors in two microbuses – one black and the other white – had taken part in the 15-minute action. They hurled bombs and started firing around 10:30am.
SI Habib, sitting beside the driver, was hit by a bullet in the hand while constable Atik died on the spot after being shot in the chest. The other constable Rana also sustained bullet wounds.
Amira Bari UP member Shahjahan Mia, who witnessed the incident, told New Age that 15-20 miscreants had snatched the key of the prison van from driver Sabuj, unlocked the prison and freed the three militants.
Later on the black microbus sped towards Dhaka and the white one drove towards Mymensingh, said Shahjahan.
Inspector general of police Hassan Mahmood Khandker described the incident as ‘undesirable’.
Police have announced Tk two lakh as bounty for each of the three escapee militants, said Dhaka range deputy inspector general of police Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman.
Meanwhile, the home ministry has formed a four-member committee to investigate the attack, headed by the ministry’s additional secretary (police) Nazimuddin Chowdhury.
Among others, DIG (Dhaka range) Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman, DIG (prison) Tipu Sultan and home ministry deputy secretary Khairul Kabir Menon have been made the members of the committee.
Some police officials and a former IGP said negligence by police had led to the incident.
A former IGP said that police should have been more cautious when they were taking some of the dangerous militants to a place miles away. Stronger security should be in place in such cases.
‘Usually, we carry accused or convicts in a prison van in which two policemen can sit in front of the locked door. But, when there is an inter-district movement of daring convicts, there should be a police convoy to ensure security,’ said the former IGP.
Salahuddin came from Narayanganj and was the commander of Sylhet-Maymenshing regional wing of JMB. He was arrested on April 5, 2006 and convicted in three cases and an accused in 40 more cases. He was a ‘Shura’ (executive) member of the banned outfit.
Jahidul Islam alias Mizan, from Jamalpur Sadar, was handed life term and an accused in 19 other cases. Rapid Action Battalion arrested this explosives expert in 2009.
He is said to have trained in bomb-making from Nasrullah and Mollah Omar of JMB after he was drafted into the group for his background in violent student politics.
Mizan was sentenced to 26 years in jail along with three other JMB militants for their involvement in a bomb attack on the court of the then Chittagong Metropolitan Magistrate Akram Hossain in October 2005.
Hafez Mahmud alias Raqib Hasan, 35, was also sentenced to death in three of the 19 cases he had been accused in.
Gazipur police have closed reserve police inspector Saidul Karim and temporarily suspended force subedar Abdul Kader for negligence in duty in this connection, said Gazipur SP Abdul Baten. The police headquarters have also formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident.

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