Bangladeshi militants free convicts in attack

Dozens of militants from banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh carried out daring attack on outskirts of Dhaka killing a policeman and freeing three convicts, one of whom was later recaptured.

Dhaka: Dozens of militants from the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh on Sunday carried out a daring attack on the outskirts of the capital, killing a policeman and freeing three convicts, one of whom was later recaptured.

Two other policemen sustained injuries when the masked JMB operatives jumped out of a bus and opened fire at a prison van taking the three convicts to a court in Mymensingh from Kashimpur Central Jail on the outskirts of Dhaka.

One convict, death row prisoner Rakib Hassan, was later recaptured by police while the other two are still at large.

Authorities sounded a red alert in areas along the border with India to prevent the convicts fleeing the country.

"The red alert has been issued at border outposts to enforce a sharper vigil so that they cannot flee the country," a Border Guard Bangladesh spokesman said.

The convicts included two members of JMB. Two of them were on death row while the third was serving a life term. They were convicted for their role in a series of bomb attacks across Bangladesh in 2005 that killed at least 28 people.

A massive manhunt was launched to trace death row prisoner Jahidul Islam alias Boma Mizan (38) and Salauddin Salehin alias Sunny who was serving a life term.

The Home Ministry has constituted a four-member committee to investigate the incident and directed it to submit its report in three days.

Officials said the committee would also investigate if adequate security measures were taken when the inmates were being taken to Mymensingh.

"We have recaptured Rakib Hassan from Sakhipur area of Tangail district," a police spokesman told reporters without giving details.

Policeman Habibur Rahman, who was injured in the attack, told the media, "A bullet pierced through the windshield and hit me in the abdomen while (fellow policeman) Atiqul Islam died instantly as he was badly hit. They were firing and exploding bombs indiscriminately."

He said the masked men carried out the attack nearly two hours after the prison van began its journey. A police official said the attackers took the key of the van`s cabin from policemen at gunpoint and freed the three convicts.
Police have announced a bounty of Taka 200,000 (USD1=Tk80) for each of the three escaped men.

Bangladesh witnessed the growth of several Islamist militant groups including JMB and Harkatul Jihad al Islami in early 2010s, when the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led right wing government was in power.