Sunday's snatching of three convicted JMB men was possible as the policemen escorting the militants had been lured into stopping the prison van in Trishal.
Offered bribe by the three, the law enforcers also allowed one of the militants to use a cellphone to contact the attackers.
The home ministry's four-member probe body, led by its Additional Secretary Nazim Uddin Chowdhury, has found this, an official of the ministry told The Daily Star yesterday.
“Police wanted Tk 3,000 from the JMB convicts after the trio had requested them to halt the van in Trishal's Signboard area and get them some snacks,” added the official who spoke in return for anonymity.
The probe team has also gathered that Gazipur police had assigned seven police personnel to escort the members of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to a Mymensingh court. But three of the cops were absent.
Hasibul Alam, additional superintendent of police in Tangail, told our correspondent that before being killed in a “shootout”, Rakib alias Hafez Mahmud told law enforcers he and his co-convicts had communicated with the attackers over a cellphone from the prison van.
Rakib also admitted that the JMB militants maintained contact with each other using mobile phones inside the prison.
Most of the JMB convicts are in four prisons in Kashimpur of Gazipur, where use of cellphones is rampant, said jail sources.
The prison authorities set up cellphone jammers at the jails to prevent use of mobile phones. But the jammers are often kept deactivated to facilitate the use of cellphones by the JMB militants and high-profile politicians.
“Some jail officials, prison guards and intelligence personnel deployed in jails are involved in this,” said a prison guard at the High Security Prison where Rakib was an inmate.
“About 200 cellphones are used in the prison. One can earn Tk 5,000 to Tk 10,000 just by proving a cellphone to an inmate,” he added.
Miscreants on Sunday ambushed a police prison van at Trishal and killed a police constable to snatch the three JMB men -- death-row convicts Salahuddin alias Salehin and Rakib and life term convict Mizan alias Boma Mizan.
Five hours into the ambush, police recaptured Rakib from Sakhipur upazila of Tangail. The JMB man was killed in a “shootout” with police just 14 hours after his recapture.
Law enforcers, however, are yet trace the two other JMB men.
Police suspected that the two might have been hiding in the forests and hilly areas under Sakhipur, Mirzapur and Ghatail upazilas of Tangail. The joint force is conducting drives in the areas to hunt down the militants.
The home ministry's probe team yesterday visited the ambush spot and talked to locals.
Asked about use of cellphones by inmates, Inspector General (prisons) Brig Gen Syed Iftekhar Uddin said, “We're probing the incident. Stern action will be taken if we find proof of any such illegal use of cellphones.”
Meanwhile, Rakib was buried yesterday at his family graveyard in Bangshi Beltoli village under Melandah upazila of Jamalpur in the presence of police. His body was taken there on Monday night, reports our Jamalpur correspondent.
ARMS, BOMBS SEIZED
Police yesterday recovered firearms, bullets and bombs from Ghatail upazila of Tangail, suspected to have been dumped by the fleeing JMB militants on Sunday.
Locals noticed a plastic bag around 11:00am in a bush in Garobazar area of Ghatail, 25 kilometres off Trishal upazila headquarters.
On information, a police team went to the scene, opened the bag and found six 7.65 pistols, eight magazines, 41 bullets and four crude bombs.
“The bullets, magazines and bombs were wrapped in clothes. Five of the pistols are US-made and the other German-made,” said Fazlul Kabir, officer-in-charge of Ghatail Police Station.
Hasibul Alam of Tangail police said the recovered weapons and bombs will be sent to the experts of Criminal Investigation Department to see whether the arms were used during Sunday's ambush.
JMB PLANED TO FREE MORE
The three JMB militants had planned to set free some other JMB leaders as part of their bid to revamp the outfit, Rakib told interrogators hours before he was killed.
“Out next plan was to launch more ambushes like the one in Trishal and set free more of our fellows. If obstructed, we would kill anybody,” an interrogator of Rakib told this newspaper quoting the JMB man.
The militant said he was fleeing through Sakhipur upazila of Tangail as someone was supposed to meet him in Mirzapur upazila on Sunday afternoon and take him to a safe place.