Vol. 5 Num 242 Sat. January 29, 2005  
Front Page

The same group used the same Arges grenade

Criminals who carried out last year's grenade attacks in Dhaka and Sylhet used the same Arges brand grenades hurled at an Awami League rally at Boidder Bazar in Habiganj Thursday. Former finance minister SAMS Kibria and four others were killed in the recent attack.

After inspecting the spot and examining the pieces of evidence, a bomb squad of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday identified the grenades.

Rab bomb experts said grenades of the same brand were hurled at AL chief Sheikh Hasina's rally in Dhaka on August 21 and at Shahjalal shrine in Sylhet in May last year, injuring British envoy to Bangladesh.

Rab official Captain Mamtazur Rahman told The Daily Star, "We're certain these were Arges model grenades."

"Another similar grenade was also seized in Amin Bazar in Dhaka late last year. We're quite sure operatives of a same chain made the Habiganj attack with same motive."

Captain Rahman, however, said anything about the operatives and their motives could only be known after investigation.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Sylhet, Mahfuzur Rahman yesterday also told newspersons here that "According to our initial findings the miscreants used Arges grenades."

The Rab bomb squad reached the Boidder Bazar Government Primary School ground from Dhaka yesterday morning and examined the hole in the ground created from the explosions. They checked marks of blood at the scene and also the trees, corrugated iron roofs of adjoining houses and the school's entry gate where splinters hit.

The Rab members collected splinters from a tree's branch and tried to identify the place from where the grenades might have been thrown. They suspect the grenades were charged from behind, the western side of the school ground.

Police have already collected a grenade lever and deposited it in Habiganj Police Station.

AKM Mahfuz, deputy inspector general of police (DIG), is now heading a high-powered investigation team comprises the NSI, Rab, policemen and the Special Branch.

Senior officials of various intelligence agencies including CID chief Farruk Ahmed Chowdhury along with high officials of Rab, DGFI, NSI and SB also visited the spot and the injured at Habiganj General Hospital yesterday.

They later told reporters that it appeared to them that SAMS Kibria was the prime target of the attack.

Two Cases Lodged: Doubt over the Fate of Probe
Organising Secretary of Habiganj district unit AL Abdul Mojid Khan filed two separate cases with Habiganj Police Station Thursday midnight. One is a murder case, while the other was filed under the Explosive Act.

Investigating officer (IO) of both the cases, OC of Habiganj Police Station Inam Ahmed Chowdhury said they could not arrest anyone until yesterday. But they questioned about 20 injured people and others living in Boidder Bazar.

Sources said investigators hope to get any witness who have seen the grenade throwers. But if such a witness is not available, it would be difficult for them to hunt down the perpetuators.

The OC said during primary inquiries one man had said prior the grenade explosion a man was starting his motorcycle near Boidder Bazar and after the explosion another was seen rushing to the bike and whisked away.

Two four-member separate teams, each headed by an additional SP from Sunamganj and Habiganj, were formed to assist the IO.

No Police Security at the Meeting
The AL leaders here have questioned why security measures by police were not taken prior to the public rally Thursday.

On the security issue, OC Inam told The Daily Star, "I had no information about the public rally. In fact, they (AL) did not officially inform us about the scheduled event. They did not also ask for police protection."

On the other hand, locals said since last Tuesday, non-stop announcement on loud speakers were made about the rally. There is no reason for police to have missed the announcement. So the question of police not knowing about the scheduled event is out of question.

Dr Musfique Hussain Choudhury, president of AL Habiganj unit, claimed police were informed about the public gathering. He said, "Prior to the event local newspapers have published news about it with Kibria's picture. Yet police were not seen at the meeting."

Choudhury alleged despite being aware of the event police stayed away to help the killers to carry out their mission.

Choudhury also pointed out to the fact of power supply failure. The ambulance that carried injured Kibria came to a halt after one and a half kilometres as it had ran out of fuel. What is even more shocking is that the ambulance did not have life saving oxygen cylinder.

All these led to a loss of precious time until another ambulance had to be called to send Kibria to Dhaka. Kibria lost a lot of blood during the unnecessary delay that may have led to his death, informed a number of people who were with Kibria on the ambulance.

Attack spot remains unprotected
The place of the grenade attack is left abandoned without any police protection. Usually, as a rule, for further investigations such spot where crime occurs are marked and encircled to prohibit public access so that evidence can be collected later.

On Friday morning members of a Rab bomb squad led by Major Moinul Hossain have inspected the spot of grenade attack. They expressed that many evidence have been destroyed as the place remained unprotected.

"Gathering vital evidence could have been much easier had the place of occurrence of the grenade attack was kept protected," said Captain Momtaz.

He, however, said, "We have gathered enough forensic evidence which would help us in further investigations."

Threat on Kibria
Anonymous callers on telephone had threatened to kill Kibria at different times, Kibria's cousin (maternal) Iqbal Hossain told the Daily Star yesterday.

While sharing information with this correspondent Iqbal said, "About a year back Kibria had discussed with me concerning the threat on his life by anonymous callers. The callers had asked Kibria to step down from politics or he may face severe consequences."

Recalling discussing about the periodic threats, Iqbal also said, "Kibria often received such threats on phone but he would not tell anyone. About the telephone threats Kibria's view was that since he was engaged in politics it is quite natural that some people would admire his leadership while others who were jealous would continue to give threats."

Iqbal added, "I now feel that we should have taken the threats seriously."

Are the attackers outsiders?
Local people believe that intruders may have carried out the grenade attack on Thursday evening. A number of people of Bongaon village in Bodderbazar while sharing their views on the grenade attack said that there is no one in the village who is capable of handling grenade.

A student of Bongaon said, "I strongly believe the attack was carried out by outsiders."

Rapid Action Battalion's bomb squad collects from a tree splinters and other bits of evidence from Thursday's grenade attack on AL rally on Boidder Bazar Government Primary School premises in Habiganj. PHOTO: STAR