Ghoraghat Upazila Nirbahi Officer Wahida Khanam and her father were seriously injured in an attack by unidentified assailants early yesterday.
The thirty-four-year-old officer of Dinajpur is in critical condition from the blunt trauma to her head, said doctors at the National Institute of Neuroscience and Hospital (NINH) in the capital.
Her father Omar Ali tried to rescue her and was attacked as well, police said, adding that he was being treated at Rangpur Medical College Hospital.
Police said it appeared that two intruders broke into the UNO's official residence between 2:30am and 3:00am and one of them hit the officer and her father with a hammer.
Prof Zahid Hossain, surgeon at NINH, said, "She was hit in the head with something heavy. It broke her skull,injuring her brain and causing internal bleeding. Her condition is not stable. The blood pressure is low. She is trying to speak, but the level of consciousness is not like a regular person's. The pulse rate is high and she is restless. She needs to be stabilised first then operated. It will be risky to operate now. Her condition has to be improved first. She has been given blood, rehydration, and a lot of medication."
Asked how risky her condition is, the surgeon told reporters that anything could happen anytime. "It is difficult to specify the level of risk…. She is in substantial risk unless the blood pressure, pulse, and level of consciousness improve."
Wahida was attacked in her official residence, a duplex in the gated community of Upazila Parishad Complex, in Osmanpur area of Ghoraghat.
The officer, her three-year-old son and her father were on the first floor and a domestic help was on the ground floor, police officers said.
Wahida's husband, who is the UNO of Pirganj upazila in Rangpur, was not at the scene.
The Upazila Parishad Complex has a boundary wall with three gates, two of which were found locked by police.
The UNO's duplex is also on an enclosed land. There are barbed wire fences on top of its boundary walls.
There is a room for guards at the entrance gate, officers said, adding that the suspects entered into the premises using a ladder and locked the guard's room from outside.
The suspects then used the ladder to break into the first floor of the building by removing a ventilator in the bathroom wall, they said.
They attackers then went to the UNO's bedroom and hit her with a hammer.
Her father sleeping in the next room was woken up by the commotion and as he rushed to her room, one of the assailants hit him.
The attackers fled as the three-year-old boy started crying in panic, police said.
By this time, the guard managed to get out of the room through a door which was not locked from outside and found out what had happened.
Wahida and her father Omar were rushed to Ghoraghat Upazila Health Complex around 4:00am and then to Rangpur Medical College Hospital around 7:00am.
She was shifted to another hospital in Rangpur city for ICU support and was flown to the capital by a helicopter of Bangladesh Air Forces and admitted to the NINH around 4:00pm.
State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told reporters at his office: "The miscreants were wearing masks. But there was a CCTV camera at the UNO's residence. Police are trying to trace the criminals."
Dinajpur-6 lawmaker Shibli Sadik said the incident was not an attempted robbery. "It was an attempt to kill the UNO."
Rangpur Divisional Commissioner Abdul Wahab said all departments and agencies concerned were working together to catch the assailants and find out the motive behind the attack.
Dinajpur Deputy Commissioner Mahmudul Alam said it was a preplanned attack.
Amirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Ghoraghat Police Station, said the guard from the UNO's residence was being interrogated and filing of a case was underway.
Senior officials of the administration and law enforcement agencies visited the scene.