Illegal Logging in Khagrachhari: 5 killed as villagers clash with BGB | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:13 AM, March 04, 2020

Illegal Logging in Khagrachhari: 5 killed as villagers clash with BGB

Deceased include a BGB member; all of them bullet-hit; probe body formed

At least five people, including a member of Border Guard Bangladesh, were killed and several others injured in a clash between members of the paramilitary force and villagers in Khagrachhari's Matiranga upazila yesterday, police said.

The clash took place as BGB members tried to stop a timber-laden truck at the upazila's Gazinagar village around 11:30am and were resisted by the traders, said MM Salauddin, additional superintendent of police in the district.

Soon, a group of villagers joined the traders, he said, adding that BGB personnel had to open fire to bring the situation under control.

The situation was brought under control after around two hours, he said.

Khagrachhari Deputy Commissioner Pratap Chandra Biswas, who visited the spot after the incident, said, "BGB personnel wanted to seize a timber-laden truck in Gazinagar area. An altercation broke out between them and labourers, which later turned into a clash."

He identified the deceased as Shahab Mia, 54, his two sons, Ali Akbar,27 and Ahmad Ali, 26; their relative Mafiz Mia, 55, and BGB soldier Md Shaon, 28.

The DC said four of the victims were killed on the spot, while fatally injured Mafiz died on his way to the Chattogram Medical College Hospital.

In a press statement, the BGB said locals surrounded one of its patrol teams which confiscated the truck near Gazinagar Bazar. At one stage, they snatched firearms from the BGB personnel and opened fire indiscriminately, leaving BGB member Md Shaon and five civilians wounded."

BGB's Guimara sector commander Col GHM Selim Hasan said, "Wood smugglers attacked the BGB men when they were taking a seized truck to the forest office."

They snatched weapons from the BGB team and opened fire. The BGB personnel then returned fire in self-defence, he said.

Matiranga Police Station Officer-in-Charge Shamsuddin Bhuiyan also said both BGB men and locals suffered bullet wounds in the incident.

Meanwhile, the district administration has formed a three-member committee to investigate the matter.

The probe body, comprised of an additional district magistrate, additional superintendent of police and a forest official, was asked to submit its report in three working days.

As of yesterday evening, autopsy was carried out only on the body of the BGB man, said Mitan Chakma, civil surgeon (in charge) in the district.

"The body bore bullet marks on the chest," he added.

A police official said the bodies of all the deceased had marks of bullet wounds.

Panic has gripped the area since the clash.

Shahab Mia's wife Ranuja Begum fainted after she learnt her husband and two sons were no more.

ASP MM Salauddin said additional law enforcers were deployed in the area to avert further untoward incidents.

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