An upazila chairman was shot and then burned alive in his car by unidentified assailants in broad daylight in Feni yesterday.
Ekramul Haque, 45, chairman of Phulgazi upazila and also president of the upazila Awami League, died on the spot.
Four of his associates, including a local journalist, were injured when the attackers set Ekramul's car on fire near Bilashi cinema hall in the town around 11:00am.
The motive behind the murder remains unknown, but the district AL President Abdul Rahman said rivalry over the recent upazila election or personal enmity might be the reason.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the law enforcement agencies to arrest the culprits, reports UNB.
The injured are Moin Uddin Shambhu, 60, former chairman of Phulgazi Sadar union; Mohibullah Farhad, 32, editor of local weekly magazine Feni Samachar; AL activist Abul Hossain, 45; and Ekramul's driver Abdullah Al Mamun, 30.
They were taken to Feni Sadar Hospital from where Mamun and Abul were brought to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for better treatment.
Feni Superintendent of Police Paritosh Ghosh told The Daily Star that 35-40 people, who came in several groups, carried out the attack.
The attackers barricaded Ekramul's car with a human haulier that they had taken from a nearby motor workshop, he said, citing witnesses.
The victims tried to go around the barricade, but the attackers hurled bricks and other missiles and forced them to stop the car.
Police were yet to arrest anyone in this connection as of midnight last night.
A tense situation prevailed in the town, with shop owners closing their shops soon after the killing.
Additional law enforcers, including members of Border Guard Bangladesh, were deployed in the area to maintain order.
Farhad, the injured journalist, said the assailants sprayed bullets and hurled handmade bombs at the vehicle when they were going to the upazila headquarters from Feni Diabetic Hospital.
The attackers shot Ekram in the chest from close range and beat up and stabbed the four inside the car, before setting the vehicle afire by dousing petrol.
The human haulier that the assailants used to put up a barricade also caught fire and burned down.
"We managed to get down from the burning car but he [Ekram] could not move as he was hit by a bullet in his chest," Farhad said.
On information, police and firefighters rushed to the spot and doused the blaze and recovered the charred body of Ekramul.
The body was burned beyond recognition and was sent to Chittagong Medical College for DNA test for confirmation.
Meanwhile, traffic movement on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway remained suspended for three hours from 1:00pm, as locals put up a barricade at Mohipal in Sadar upazila protesting the killing.
The blockade created about a five-kilometre-long tailback on both sides of the highway, as hundreds of vehicles got stranded. Police cleared the barricade around 4:00pm.
Activists of Chhatra League and Jubo League, the pro-AL student and youth wings, brought out processions in different areas.
Meanwhile, followers of Ekramul vandalised the house of BNP leader Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury at Anandapur village in the afternoon. Mahtab, who also contested in the upazila polls but lost to Ekram, was not at home during the attack.
Later, at a protest really on Trunk Road in the town, local AL lawmaker Nizam Uddin Hazari pointed the finger at Mahtab over the murder.
But the BNP condemned the vandalism. Party acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said feuds within the AL might have been the reason behind the killing.