IS claims responsibility, Govt denies IS involvement
A suicide blast, purportedly carried out by an Islamic State (IS) militant, rocked the campus of Bangladesh’s elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) near Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Friday.
“The terrorist blew himself up also leaving two RAB men wounded,” RAB spokesman Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan told newsmen in an initial briefing at the scene, earmarked for constructing the elite anti-crime force’s headquarters.
Wounded RAB men -Lance Corporal Mizan and Police Constable Mizan have been admitted at the nearby Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka Cantonment, the said.
Khan said the attack appeared to be an act of any militant outfit but it was not clear immediately which of the Islamist outfits staged it.
“Right now we are, however, concentrating our attention to ascertain if the complex and the neighbourhood are secured,” he said as police’s counter terrorism unit with bomb disposal team reached the scene while thoroughfares around the complex were blocked for vehicular movements.
The spokesman confirmed witnesses accounts that the suicide bomber, aged about 27, sneaked into the complex crossing the wall and exploded a powerful bomb as several RAB men gathered at a common bathing place there ahead of Jumma payers.
Another official told BSS that the suicide bomber was challenged by the RAB men inside the bathing place as he entered there on the plea of performing ablution, an act of washing oneself ahead of prayers.
“As he was approached by two of our men, detonated his suicide vest, killing him instantly and injuring the two personnel,” Commander Mohamad Shoaib said.
The incident came a day after four suspected militants were killed in an encounter with elite police units including RAB at Sitakunda on the outskirts of Chittagong.
IS claims responsibility
Middle East-based militant outfit Islamic State (IS) has claimed the responsibility for the suicide attack.
According to Amaq News Agency, run by the IS militants, a suicide bomber rattled the Ashkona RAB office on Friday afternoon, killing himself by detonating a bomb.
The announcement came first on IS’ Arabic Amaq news agency on Telegram and then on at-Tamkin (Bengali) Friday afternoon, within five hours of the attack.
Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, however, brushed aside involvement of IS in the blast.
“The local militants are not totally eliminated; these are stray incidents. They are carrying out attacks as they are on the verge of destruction,” he told jouralists.
“We have taken the fingerprint of the attacker. It will be matched with the national database to find out his identity and the outfit he belonged to. You can come to know tomorrow (Saturday)” the minister said.
Bangladesh is experiencing a surge in attacks by suspected militants. The government is repeatedly rejecting IS’ involvement in the attacks.
A major attack on a restaurant in July left 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, dead. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the restaurant attack, but the government has blamed a banned militant group, Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh.
Officials said four JMB members were killed Thursday in a police raid in the southeastern district of Chittagong.
Security intensified for jails, airports
Authorities concerned have intensified security vigil for all airports and 68 jails across the country following today’s suspected suicide blast at Ashkona barrack of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in capital.
“Instructions have been issued to intensify the security of our prisons . . . an extra security vigilance around the jails has been ensured to avert any untoward incident in and around the prison complexes across the country,” Inspector General (IG) of Prisons Brigadier General Syed Iftekhar Uddin told journalists this afternoon.
Referring to the intensified security alert following the incident at Ashkona’s proposed RAB office where a suicide bomber was killed, he said jail guards have been advised to wear vests on duty and rigorously screen inmates before taking them into prisons.
The jail forces have also been asked strict surveillance surrounding jail areas with taking necessary measures if they encounter any suspicious activities, the prison chief said.
The law enforcers have also beefed up security at Hazrat Shahjalal (R) International Airport and other airports throughout the country, apprehending subversive activities, state run news agency BSS reports.
Assistant Superintendent of Airport Armed Police (AAP) Tareq Ahmed (Media) said, “Security measures have been tightened in and around the Hazrat Shahjalal Airport . . . as part of the intensified security measures, the authorities have also restricted entry of visitors today.”
He added: “Based on intelligence report, the security at the airport has been intensified since 2 pm and it will continue until further instruction.”