Two alleged Yaba traders, including a local leader of the ruling party, were killed in a "shootout" with law enforcers in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar early yesterday.
Of the deceased, Md Zahid Hossain alias Zakku, 45, was the president of Teknaf Poura Swechchhasebak League, the volunteers' front of the Awami League. He hailed from Teknaf's Kayukh Khali village. The other one was identified as Faridul Alam, 48, of Shiali Ghona of the upazila.
With the death of the two, the number of people killed in "shootouts" since January now totals to 55, according to The Daily Star and Ain O Salish Kendra statistics.
Interestingly, two versions of the "shootout" story were given by the law enforcers following the incident.
According to a press release of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), members of the border forces and the Rapid Action Battalion set up a check-post near Damdamia Nature Park on information that a group of criminals, carrying contraband Yaba and arms was passing through the area in a microbus.
As the microbus reached the check-post around 4:15am, the law enforcers signalled it to stop. But the vehicle took a U-turn and criminals started firing at the BGB and the Rab members. The law enforcers in retaliation opened fire too. After the gunfight, Zakku and Farid's bullet-hit bodies were found inside the vehicle while their cohorts managed to flee, added the press release.
According to the BGB press release issued around 11:00am, two locally made guns, a pipe gun, 12 cartridges and 1,475 Yaba tablets were recovered from the microbus.
However, a source in the BGB told this correspondent earlier in the morning that Zakku and Farid were listed Yaba smugglers and a joint team of the Rab and the BGB picked them up from their residences around 12:30am yesterday after raiding the areas.
When the law enforcers took the duo to Damdamia Nature Park to recover Yaba tablets hidden by them, cohorts of Zakku and Farid opened fire on them triggering a "gunfight". Zakku and Farid were caught in the line of fire and died on the spot at about 4:00am, said the source.
This correspondent found four bullet wounds in each of the bodies when they were taken to Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital morgue for autopsies.