Militants attacked prison van to free Islamist leader Abdul Hannan
The vehicle was travelling to Kashimpur prison. Two bombs exploded, but the attempt failed. A suspect has been arrested, and is now being interrogate. Islamists continue attacks in Bangladesh.
Gazipur (AsiaNews) – A group of Islamist militants attacked a van carrying prisoners in an effort to free Abdul Hannan, a mufti and leader of the extremist Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami group, and 19 of his associates.
The incident occurred yesterday afternoon in Tongi, Gazipur district, in central Bangladesh, in front of the Safiuddin Sarker Academy, when the prisoners were being brought back to the Kashimpur Central Prison after a hearing in Dhaka.
Hannan is the leader of a group responsible for several deadly attacks in recent years.
According to the officer in charge Md Firoz Talukder, several hand grenades were thrown at the van. Two of them exploded, but they missed the target and no one was injured.
The police captured a suspect in Mymensingh, Md Mostafa Kamal, 25. The young man, a student at a madrassa (Qur‘anic school), was discovered trying to flee with a bag containing seven hand grenades, a stun grenade and two machetes.
"Kamal said in the initial interrogation that a person gave him 10,000 takas to carry out the attack,” officer Firoz said. “He has not yet disclosed the name of the person.”
According to police, Kamal was in Gazipur for a year with a fake ID to mislead the investigation. The van attack was intended to free Hannan.
Hannan heads Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, a South Asian Islamist extremist organisation dedicated to establishing Islamic rule, operates mainly in South Asia.
The group is responsible for the attack on the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in the diocese of Khulna (south-western district of Gopalgonj) on 6 June 2001, during which ten Catholics were killed and 26 injured.
The mufti faces a death sentence for an attack in Sylhet against the then British High Commissioner Anwar Chowdhury, that killed three people, including two policemen, and explosions at Ramna Batamul that in April 2001 that killed ten people.
On 23 February 2014, Islamist militants attacked a van in Mymensingh, killing a policeman and freeing three Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen leaders.
One of them, Rakibul Hasan was recaptured the same day, whilst the other two, Salauddin Salehin and Mizan, are still fugitives with 500,000-takas reward to anyone providing information.
Over the past two decades, terrorist acts by Islamist militants have increased, directed against ordinary people, foreigners and religious minorities.
On 21 February, during a seminar on interreligious dialogue, Alhaj Molla Nazrul Islam, Islamic leaders Dakop, promised minorities his protection.
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