Accused killed in 'gunfight'
An alleged human trafficker was killed in a "shootout" with detectives in Cox's Bazar's Ukhia upazila early yesterday.
With yesterday's incident, four "traffickers" have been killed in such "gunfights" with members of law enforcement agencies in the district since Friday.
Zafar Alam, 37, son of Zahir Ahmed of Paschim Sonarpara village in the upazila, was killed yesterday. He stood accused in at least four cases filed for human trafficking, reports our Cox's Bazar correspondent.
Detective Branch of police constable Sohel and Ansar member Monir Ahmed, who was accompanying the detectives, were also injured in yesterday's "shootout", police said.
Acting on a tip-off, police raided Paschim Sonarpara where a human trafficking gang was trying to take some Bangladeshi jobseekers on a trawler around 2:00am to send them to Malaysia by sea illegally, according to Dewan Abul Hossain, officer-in-charge of Cox's Bazar DB police.
"Suddenly, the gang members started to spray bullets on police, which prompted the law enforcers to retaliate," said the OC.
At one stage, the criminals fled the scene, but police found Zafar dead on the spot. Later in the afternoon, the body was handed over to Zafar's relatives after an autopsy at Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital morgue.
Detectives claimed that a homemade firearm and two bullets were recovered from the spot.
DB police filed three cases with Cox's Bazar Sadar Model Police Station, accusing unknown human traffickers, over the incident.
In another "gunfight" on Friday, three suspected human traffickers -- Dholu Hossain, Jahangir Alam and Zafar Alam -- were killed in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf upazila.
The incidents took place at a time when human trafficking issues were making headlines in the media outlets of South-East Asian countries following the discovery of a number of graves in abandoned camps in Thai jungles. The victims were believed to be the fortune seekers from Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, at a programme in the capital yesterday, said the government was updating the list of the human traffickers. Those found guilty would be punished, he warned.
At a press briefing at the foreign ministry, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam yesterday said Bangladesh was working to verify the identities of the self-claimed Bangladeshis rescued from Thai jungles. Once the identities were verified, they would be repatriated, he said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand Saida Muna Tasneem has assured Thai authorities of taking strict legal action against the human traffickers in Bangladesh, said a foreign ministry statement.
"The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will take every action to strictly enforce legal measures against unscrupulous organised criminal groups which are trafficking young Bangladeshi people by sea to Malaysia via Thailand," she told Songkhla province Vice Governor Ekkarat Leesen.
Tasneem, who led a team from Bangladesh embassy in Bangkok to Songkhla province on May 7-8, visited Sadao district hospital where a Bangladeshi, Toton Saha of Narayanganj, is being treated after he was rescued.
She enquired about his identity and details of his experience of being trafficked to Thailand.
The team also visited the protection centre in Ratthaphum district and interviewed 15 more self-claimed Bangladeshis, the statement added.
Ekkarat Leesen stressed on cooperation among the regional countries to tackle the transnational crime.