Firebomb takes three more lives
He knew the risk on the way was great. But his needs were greater: He had a five-member family to feed. And he paid with his life for the risk he had taken.
Small trader Shahidul Islam is one of the latest arson victims to join the procession of the at least 55 dead in the last one month. In yesterday's bomb attack on the truck he was on, another man was burned alive while two others were injured.
The incident took place around 4:30am at Belail in Bogra town. Shahidul, 38, was going to Dinajpur from Jhenidah to sell betel leaves.
He was the sole breadwinner for his parents, wife and a seven-year-old son.
“We've been thrown into a sea. Who will feed us? How will we survive,” said his elderly father Afzal Hossain.
The other victim is Imran Hossain, 21. He was the helper but was driving the vehicle at the time while the driver was sleeping.
Imran, of Jhenidah's Shailakupa, was a first-year honours student at Sheikhpara DM Degree College. He took the job to support his family and his education, reports our Jhenidah correspondent.
“The dream that he will get a job on completion of his education is now over,” howled Imran's father Ayub Hossain.
The injured are Palash Hossain, 24, the driver of the truck, and Mamunur Rashid, 46, another betel leaf trader from Dinajpur's Nawabganj.
With 23 percent burns, Mamunur is being treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital burn unit. Palash was admitted at a Bogra hospital with wounds he suffered from jumping.
Their betel leaf-laden truck came under attack hours after the local administration beefed up security on Dhaka-Rangpur Highway and other roads in the district on Wednesday evening, deploying Ansar men on at least 41 risky points, reports our Bogra correspondent.
The area where the incident occurred was close to one of the risky points, Nirala Pump, but there were no Ansar men there at the time of the attack, locals said.
Shamim Sardar, a transport worker who witnessed the incident, said a gang of 10-12 hurled crude bombs, petrol bombs and brick chips simultaneously at the truck.
The truck instantly caught fire, but Imran kept driving, trying to escape the attack. But he lost control and hit three buses parked several yards away. The fire soon engulfed the four vehicles, he added.
Gaziur Rahman, assistant superintendent of Bogra police, said they arrested 15 people from the surrounding areas in connection with the attack.
Over the past one month, at least 50 trucks have been torched by arsonists and at least 200 vehicles vandalised in Bogra alone, sources said.
In Rajshahi's Puthia upazila last night, a truck helper died in a bomb attack.
The victim, Mohammad Mintu, 24, died on the spot around 8:30pm when he jumped off the truck, only to fall under the running vehicle, said SM Rashidul Hoque, additional superintendent of Rajshahi police.
The driver and another helper escaped unhurt.
Meanwhile, a police constable, who had been injured while trying to escape a petrol bomb attack on January 17, succumbed to his injuries at a Dhaka hospital yesterday.
He is the first law enforcer to have died in the current spate of violence.
With the four killed yesterday, death toll in the violence since January 5 has risen to 55 -- 39 of the victims ordinary people with no political links. Of the total, 31 people died in arson attacks.
And in yet another act of sabotage on railway, pickets set fire to a compartment of a train around 6:00am when it reached Joydevpur station from Dhaka.
No one was hurt but two seats of the compartment were burnt.
Locals managed to douse the flame and caught a youth named Momin, 25, of Jarpukurpar area, for his alleged involvement in the incident, police and railway officials said.
In another incident, miscreants vandalised and torched a filling station of an Awami League activist at Mahasthangarh on Rangpur-Dhaka Highway in Bogra around 9:45pm on Wednesday.
Quoting locals, police said a gang of 10-12 attacked Uttoron Filling Station, owned by Abdur Rouf Jaglu, after blasting several crude bombs.
Firefighters doused the blaze.
The pump authorities said they could not identify the attackers.
In Natore, pickets firebombed a truck at Ahmmedpur of Bariagram, injuring the driver and the helper.
In the capital, police detained 76 BNP-Jamaat activists from different places in the past 24 hours, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Mirpur police produced 32 people of them before a Dhaka court after arresting them overnight from Senpara Parbota area.
The court sent 31 to jail and granted bail to another -- Shamsul Haque, a lawyer.
In the port city, pickets exploded two crude bombs in front of the Chittagong Education Board yesterday afternoon, but no one was hurt, said Board Controller Pijush Dutta.
From the parking space of the city's Biman office at Sholashahar, police recovered two crude bombs in the morning.
Meanwhile, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal unit of Rajshahi University called an indefinite strike on the campus from Saturday protesting the alleged arrest of its General Secretary Kamrul Hasan.
Family and JCD sources alleged that detectives arrested him yesterday, but detectives denied the claim.