Killers trained, target clear
The killers' target was clear: shoot and confirm the death of Cumilla city Councillor Syed Mohammad Sohel on the spot.
The motive of the murder on Monday, however, is still shrouded in mystery.
The gunmen stayed around 20 minutes after opening fire on Sohel in his office in Cumilla city's Pathuriapara so that no one could dare take him to hospital immediately, said his associates and inhabitants of nearby buildings.
The attackers, some wearing masks and some helmets, shot others in the legs inside and outside the office, indicating that they were professional hit men, said law enforcers.
The death of Haripada Das, the close aide to the councillor, was possibly a "collateral damage", they said.
"We believe the murder had been planned long ago," said a police official dealing with the double-murder, wishing not to be named.
Five others who suffered bullet injuries in the attack are: Awal Hossain Rizu, 23, Rasel, 29, Majedul Haque Badal, 39, Jewel, 40, and Sohel Chowdhury, 43. They were undergoing treatment at Cumilla Medical College Hospital.
All of them are associates of the councillor, said locals.
Meanwhile, the family members of Sohel, councillor of ward-17 and also the panel mayor of Cumilla City Corporation, termed it a political killing.
"Political rivals are behind the murder … We want justice," Sohel's elder brother Syed Mohammad Alamgir told The Daily Star yesterday.
Councillor's wife Shahnaz Akhter said, "My husband was popular not only in the locality but also across the Cumilla city. They killed him in a planned way."
The councillor, also the president of ward-17 Awami League, was shot nine times and eight of the bullets went through his body. Haripada was the member of the ward-17 AL unit.
"The killers wanted to confirm his death on the spot. We hardly found any bullets in the dead bodies," said a source at Cumilla Medical College morgue after the autopsy.
Law enforcers could not arrest anyone even 24 hours after the grisly double-murder that took place around 4:00pm on Monday.
Police, however, recovered three locally made guns, 12 bullets usually used in rifle, a bag of crude bombs and two black garments from Sangraish, around 500 metres away from the spot.
Anwarul Azim, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Model Police Station, said the criminals might have left those there.
Police collected footage of several CCTV cameras, three of them installed in front of the office, to identify the killers.
No case was lodged till filing of this report around 10:00pm yesterday.
Sohel's Personal Assistant Majedul Haque Badal, who was shot in one of his legs, said, "The killers stormed the office shouting that they were members of a law enforcement agency. Six to seven people were sitting with the councillor at that time."
Haripada sustained bullet wounds first during the indiscriminate firing, he added.
Another injured, Badal, however, gave a different version claiming that he identified at least two of the masked attackers by their voices.
The two he named are: Shah Alam and Sohel alias "Jail Sohel" -- both are local criminals. Alam had a rivalry with the councillor over some local issues, claimed Badal.
However, this newspaper could not independently verify his claim.
Jahangir Hossain Babul, councillor of Ward-16, alleged that Alam, known as a drug trader, had a dispute with Councillor Sohel as he opposed Alam's illegal activities.
A week ago, Alam opened fire in Pathuriapara area when some locals tried to catch one of his friends for disturbing a girl, he told The Daily Star.
Sohel informed police of the matter, which irked Alam, said Babul, a friend of the slain councillor.
He also alleged that police personnel reached the spot around an hour after the incident.
Farooque Ahmed, superintendent of Cumilla police, said apart from other possible causes, police were looking into the involvement of Alam and "Jail Sohel" in the murders.
Asked about the delay in going to the spot, the SP said police went to the spot after hearing about the incident.
Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered outside the councillor's office and his house after the body of councillor Sohel was taken there from the hospital.
In tears, they demanded justice for the killings.
"We want justice," Momena Akter was shouting near the councillor's office.
"The councillor was our guardian. He used to always help poor people like us," she said.
Sohel was buried at the family graveyard following a namaz-e-janaza at local mosque premises. Haripada was cremated in Tikkarchar area.
Before the janaza, Syed Mohammad Nadim, only son of the Sohel, said, "What I only want is capital punishment of those who killed my father."
The spot where Sohel was murdered is four-five km from Bibir Bazar land port.
The name of the councillor, who had a huge popularity in his locality, came up in the discussion after communal violence took place during the Durga Puja celebrations in the city.
Iqbal Hossain, who is accused of placing the Holy Quran in the city's Nanua Dighir Par puja mandap in the early hours of October 13, used to reside in one of Sohel's houses at Pathuriapara as a tenant.