DHAKA, June 5, (Agencies): The wife of a senior Bangladeshi police official known for battling Islamist militants was stabbed and shot to death on Sunday, and machetewielding assailants killed a Christian grocer in a separate incident. Both attacks appeared to be the work of Islamist militants who have killed at least 30 people, including religious minorities, liberal bloggers and academics, since February last year, police said.
Three assailants riding a motorcycle stabbed and then shot Mahmuda Aktar, 33, while she was on her way to put her son onto a school bus near her home in the southeastern port city of Chittagong, police said. “She was stabbed first. Then they shot her in the head three times,” Humayan Kabir, deputy police commissioner of Chittagong, told Reuters. Her husband, police superintendent Babul Aktar, has played an important role in cracking down on militants in the region. “Babul Aktar is an efficient police officer and played a key role in apprehending Islamists. They might have killed his wife because they failed to get him,” Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters
Aktar, who was recently posted to police headquarters in the capital, Dhaka, busted several hideouts of the banned group Jamaat-ul- Mujahideen. His team also arrested one of the group’s leaders, who was later killed in a grenade blast during a police raid in October.
The government has launched a crackdown on militant groups who want to impose strict Islamic law on Bangladesh, whose population of 160 million are mostly moderate Muslims. In Sunday’s other killing, Sunil Gomes, a 60-year-old shopkeeper, was hacked to death in his shop in the northern district of Natore, local police official Manirul Islam said. Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing Gomes, according to the US-based monitoring service SITE.
Islamic State and al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many killings in the past but the government denies either group has a presence in Bangladesh and says home-grown radicals are responsible. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam told Reuters in an interview last month that Islamic State was trying to ride a wave of religious radicalisation by falsely claiming killings, and said there was enough evidence implicating domestic militant groups. Suspected Islamist militants killed the wife of a senior anti-terror officer in the Bangladesh city of Chittagong on Sunday, the latest attack thought carried out by local extremists, police said.
Three unidentified men stabbed and then shot Mahmuda Begum in the head as she walked her son to a school bus stop near her home, Chittagong Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Moktar Hossain said. Begum was the wife of Babul Akter who has led several highprofile operations against the banned Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militant group in the southeastern city in recent months. “The attackers came on a motorcycle. Her son said she was stabbed first.
Then they pointed a pistol near her ear and shot several times,” Hossain told AFP. “We suspect JMB or local Islamist extremists for the attack. Akter led successful anti-militant raids in Chittagong in which several JMB men were arrested,” he said. Akter, who was recently posted to the police headquarters in Dhaka, has received threats and he was asked to step up his personal security.
In October last year, Akter and his team arrested top JMB militant Mohammad Javed along with four others and seized a huge cache of explosives from their hideout, according to police. Javed was later killed by a grenade during a police raid of another JMB hideout, to which he was brought along as an informant.
The attack comes as Muslimmajority Bangladesh reels from a wave of gruesome murders of liberals, secular activists and religious minorities by suspected Islamist militants. Police say around 40 people have been killed by homegrown Islamists in the past three years, with a spike in attacks in recent weeks.
A Hindu trader was hacked to death last week, days after a homoeopathic doctor was also slaughtered along with a Buddhist monk. International jihadists such as the Islamic State organisation and Al-Qaeda’s South Asia wing have claimed responsibility for most of the murders, but authorities deny these groups are present in the country.
Bangladesh’s secular government instead blames local opponents. Experts say a government crackdown on opponents, including banning the largest Islamist party following a protracted political crisis, has pushed many towards extremism.