Jamaat-Shibir men early yesterday ambushed a police team in Sundarganj upazila of Gaibandha and clashed with the joint forces sent to relieve the police team, leaving 55 people, including 22 cops, injured.
The activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and pro-Jamaat student body Islami Chhatra Shibir also torched a police pickup, vandalised 12 homes and surrounded the policemen during the nearly five-hour-long clash. Five Jamaat-Shibir activists were arrested.
Mofazzal Hossain, superintendent of police of Gaibandha, told The Daily Star that the police were conducting a raid in Kadamtala and Khanabari villages of Sarbananda union in the upazila around 1:00am yesterday.
The villages are known to be Jamaat-Shibir strongholds.
Mofazzal said the law enforcers had cordoned off the villages to capture people wanted in cases filed in connection with the violence that rocked the district in February 2013.
As policemen were conducting their raid inside the villages, Jamaat-Shibir activists put up barricades on all the exit points of the villages and torched the vehicle the law enforcers went there in. They then swooped on the policemen with sticks and sharp weapons, forcing the law enforcers to retaliate with a few gunshots, he said.
Locals said members of the joint forces rushed to the area to help the police team and fired a large number of teargas shells and rubber bullets. The Jamaat-Shibir men hurled brick chunks at the law enforcers during the clash and vandalised 12 homes, police said.
The joint forces managed to get the police team free around 6:00am and arrest Mafizal Islam, 56, Shajahan Bhutto, 45, Al-Amin, 20, Ashiqur Rahman, 22, and Dulu Mia, 25.
Twenty-two policemen, including sub-inspectors Mahiuddin and Abdul Matin, were injured during the clash, SP Mofazzal said, adding that six cops were sent to Rangpur Medical College Hospital for treatment.
General secretary of Sundarganj upazila unit of Jamaat Shahidul Islam Manju claimed that 25 of its leaders and activists were injured in the clash and he blamed police for vandalising the 12 homes.
In the morning, the villages of Kadamtala, Khanabari, and Ramvadra, where the clashes had spread to, had no men. The men had fled fearing arrest, said Shajahan Mandol, chairman of Sarbananda union parishad.
On February 28, 2013, immediately after Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death for war crimes, Jamaat-Shibir activists had attacked Banondanga police outpost. They vandalised and torched the outpost and killed four policemen.
A total of 32 cases were filed against 58,900 unnamed and 1,100 named Jamaat-Shibir activists in this connection.
Officer-in-Charge Mozammel Hossain of Sunderganj Police Station said their drives to arrest the accused would continue.