‘Crossfire deaths’ on the rise | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:17 AM, July 26, 2020

‘Crossfire deaths’ on the rise

35 killed so far this month

"Crossfires" with law enforcers claimed multiple lives every single day for the past six days, marking a deadly streak in extra-judicial killings.

Statistics obtained by Ain o Salish Kendra show that 35 people have been killed so far in "shootouts" in the month of July -- and the month is not even over yet.

In comparison, 143 people died in "crossfires" between January and June this year, averaging at 23 killings per month.

Between late night Friday and the early hours of Saturday, four people died in "crossfires" in Cox's Bazar, Chattogram and Kushtia. All those killed were accused in various criminal cases, including of narcotics.

In Banshkhali upazila of Chattogram, Sher Ali, an alleged robber was killed in what law enforcers claimed to be a "gunfight" with Rapid Action Battalion, in the early hours of yesterday.

"Sher Ali was killed in a shootout with Rab-7 in Saral union area of Banshkhali," said Mahmudul Hasan Mamun, assistant director of Rab-7 (media wing).

"He was accused in at least 12 cases filed for murder and robbery with different police stations," he added.

The shootout took place in a deserted area underneath a bridge, around 1:00am, informed additional superintendent of police, Sohel Mahmud.

"The robbers had gathered at that spot, and RAB arrived there acting on a tip-off. The robbers, realising they've been found, shot at RAB. After the fight, Ali's body was recovered," he said.

Rab claimed they recovered three firearms and 13 rounds of bullets from the spot.

In Kushtia, a person charged with narcotics cases died in a "crossfire" that took place in an empty brick-field in Daulatpur upazila.

He was accused in six cases -- four for drug trading, one for arms smuggling and one related to a clash over drug smuggling, said Officer-in-charge of Daulatpur Police Station SM Arifur Rahman.

He said Kudrat was a listed drug dealer and was involved in drug smugglings at various points of Daulatpur border for almost two decades.

Police arrested him twice earlier but he walked out of jail on bail, the OC said.

Around 2:00am yesterday, police received a tip-off that two groups of drug traders have gathered in Center More area of Dangmarka village, and raided the spot. But sensing their presence, the drug dealers opened fire at police, the OC said.

Police also fired back, triggering a "gunfight", he said.

After the criminals fled the scene, police found Kudrat's body there, he added.

Police also recovered a foreign made pistol, three bullets, one magazine, a sharp weapon and 43 bottles of Phensidyl from the spot.

Superintendent of Police in Kushtia SM Tanvir Arafath PPM (Bar) said police have zero tolerance against drugs.

"Operations would continue in the border areas of the district where drug smuggling is going on", he said, "and no drug dealer will be spared."

Meanwhile in Teknaf, two Rohingya refugees were killed in a "crossfire" with Border Guard Bangladesh in Hnila union of Teknaf upazila around 11:00pm on Friday.

The deceased -- Md Ferdous, 30, and Md Abdus Salam. 35 -- were residents of Block-H of Balukhali Rohingya Camp in Ukhia upazila.

A BGB patrol team took position in Mochoni Lobon Math area on receiving information that a large consignment of yaba will enter Bangladesh from Myanmar through the Naaf river, said Lt Col of BGB-2 Battalion in Teknaf Mohammad Faisal Hasan Khan.

Soon, they saw two or three persons swimming ashore and they were asked to surrender.

The drug peddlers opened fire at them and the "gunfight" ensued when BGB men retaliated in self-defence, the official said.

At one stage, the drug traders fled the scene leaving behind bullet-hit Ferdous and Abdus Salam.

The duo were rushed to Teknaf Upazila Health Complex and then to Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital where doctors declared them dead, the BGB official said.

Police claimed to have recovered 2.1 lakh pieces of yaba from the spot.

A total of 17 alleged yaba smugglers, including 12 Rohingyas, were killed in "gunfights" with law enforcers in Cox's Bazar since July 1.

On Friday, five more alleged drug peddlers were killed in "crossfires" in Dhaka, Cox's Bazar and Feni.

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