Cops suspect militant link | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 23, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:12 AM, April 28, 2015


Bangladesh police suspect militant link in deadly bank robbery

Staff Correspondent

Investigators probing the gruesome bank heist in Ashulia have said the nature of the attack seemed different from “usual bank robberies”.
They suspect that the robbers have links with militant groups.

“The robbers used hand grenades, crude bombs, firearms and cleavers. A can of petrol was found in the backpack of a robber. These weapons are usually used by militant groups. The symptoms raised suspicions that the robbers might have links with militant groups,” said Habibur Rahman, superintendent of police in Dhaka.

“Like me, many other senior police officials who have knowledge about militancy are of the same opinion,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.  

The SP said although there was apparently no resistance from bank officials, the robbers killed four people inside the branch.
One of the arrested burglars identified the dead robber as Hafiz. The other arrestee claimed that he did not know the deceased.
Militant outfits usually employ a cut-off system among different groups so that law enforcers cannot get information about their activities and top leadership from an arrestee.

Police yesterday raided a house in Chandra of Kaliakoir upazila in Gazipur. Some of the robbers rented the house and had been staying there for the last few days, mentioned Habibur. 

Law enforcers seized some books on Jihad and Islami Chhatra Shibir there, he added. 

Arrestee Borhan Mridha, who is a Hafiz of the Quran, stayed in a mess at the house. Aged about 25, the youth was undergoing treatment at Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar.

The other arrestee is Saiful. Investigators were also looking into whether there was any link of Jamaat-Shibir with the robbery.
About 10 robbers swooped on the Kathgora branch of Bangladesh Commerce Bank Limited (BCBL) in broad daylight on Tuesday and killed four people, including the branch manager.

While escaping the scene, they blasted hand grenades and stabbed many locals, leaving three more dead and around 25 injured.
Locals managed to catch three robbers. One of them was beaten to death while two others were handed over to the police.

ASM Mahfuzul Haq Nuruzzaman, deputy inspector general (Dhaka range) of police, claimed that Borhan of Kashiani upazila in Gopalganj was a Shibir activist and his family members were involved in Jamaat politics. 

“The robbers didn't go to the bank only for committing the robbery,” he told reporters at a press briefing at Savar Model Police Station yesterday.

The burglars had enough chances to grab the keys to the vault and rob it, but they didn't do that, he added. “They [robbers] had gone there seemingly to commit some kind of atrocities.”

The DIG said they sent eight CCTVs to experts for analysing the footage and identifying the other members of the robbery gang. 
State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan visited the BCBL branch yesterday afternoon. He endorsed police claim that the incident was not like any previous bank robberies. 

Talking to The Daily Star, bank official Md Shahadat said he was offering Zohr prayers near the cash counter when three armed robbers entered the branch and asked everyone to lie on the floor.

Instead of lying, he tried to move forward. All of a sudden, the robbers stabbed in his waist and back with sharp weapons and shot at him. He is at the intensive care unit of Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar.

A total of 17 injured, mostly traders at Kathgora Bazar, were receiving treatment at the hospital yesterday. Of them, 10 were at the ICU. Hospital sources said the victims at the ICU were not out of danger.

Physicians had to amputate vegetable trader Shafiqul Islam's left leg from below the ankle as he was seriously injured from a grenade blast. He went in front of the bank gate to resist the robbers.

Sources at Dhaka Medical College morgue, where autopsies were carried out on seven bodies, said most of the victims died from stab injuries.

Ashulia police filed a case against around 300 unnamed villagers for beating a robber to death. The BCBL authorities sued seven to eight unknown robbers for the heist.

Our Savar correspondent contributed to this report.


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