Asia Times Correspondent
Dhaka: Just four days after two attacks on publishers of slain US-Bangladesh blogger Avijit Roy, policemen on duty at a Bangladeshi highway were attacked by a group of miscreants wielding sharp weapons during the early morning hours of Wednesday.
The Islamic State (IS), in statements attributed to it, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The role was confirmed by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online.
In a circulated message online, IS said: “In a security operation, Allah enabled the soldiers of the state in Bangladesh to attack a police checkpoint. The soldiers of the caliphate withdrew safely.”
Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the latest attack is similar to those wrought on bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh, during this year.
According to Bangladesh police, a team of five policemen were attacked while they were on duty at a police check post on the Dhaka-Tangail highway near Ashulia’s Barhaipara around 7.30 am (http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2015/11/04/attackers-hack-to-death-a-police-constable-in-savar).
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Nazmul Hasan Kiron said, “Around seven to eight attackers came on motorcycles and used sharp weapons to hack the policemen on duty.”
Soon after the attack, the culprits sped.
The injured policemen were taken to the neighboring Enam Medical College and Hospital at Savar where police constable Mukul Hossain succumbed to his injuries. Another police constable Nur-e-Alam Siddique is in a critical condition while three others were provided medical treatment.
Later during the day, while visiting the wounded police officials at the hospital, Bangladesh’s home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the “surprise attack” took place “during changing shifts of the patrol stationed there. The assailants attacked when the patrol arrived to take charge of the check-post,” said Kamal.
“This attack on police is exactly like the attacks on bloggers and publishers. Though these radicals go by different names like HuJI [Harkut-ul Jihad Al Islami] or Ansarullah [Ansarullah Bangla], they are one and the same,” he said.
One of the attacks on two publishing house offices in Dhaka on Saturday left Faisal Arefin Dipan, chief of publication house Jagriti Prokashoni, dead.
In the other attack, three including Suddhaswar publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul were critically injured.
A few hours later, an alleged Bangladeshi extremist group that claims to be linked to al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the heinous attacks (http://atimes.com/2015/10/blogger-avijit-roys-publisher-2-others-attacked-in-dhaka/) .
“We, al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS), claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the honour of the messenger of Allah and the religion of Islam,” read a statement sent from AQIS affiliate Ansar-al-Islam to media outlets.
“These two publishers were worse than the writers of such books, as they helped to propagate those books and paid the blasphemers handsome amount of money for writing them,” the statement said.
The same group had earlier claimed responsibility for the killings of four other secular bloggers in Bangladesh this year, calling the victims enemies of Islam and Allah.
A number of media outlets in Bangladesh published reports on the progress of investigations being conducted by Bangladesh police.
According to some of them, the IP addresses of the Twitter, Facebook and google accounts that claimed responsibility for the attacks on Saturday were successfully tracked to identify that most likely six people, divided into two groups, had carried out the attacks (http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2015/nov/04/ip-tracking-yields-first-lead).
Investigators also claimed to have narrowed down the identities of three suspects who may have murdered Faisal Arefin Dipan on Saturday. They said CCTV footage showed three suspects rushing out of the Aziz Supermarket around Saturday evening, where Dipan’s office is located on the second floor.
The authorities in Bangladesh were urged by the United Nations on Monday to “fully investigate” the killing of publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan.
“We would clearly condemn the killing of the publisher we saw in Bangladesh,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary general. He continued, “…we would very much call on the government to fully investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice”.
Over the past few months, since February when Avijit Roy was killed near Dhaka University premises in a similar attack, most bloggers, activists and human rights experts in Bangladesh have reasoned that the frequency of such murders are increasing as past murder incidents were never properly investigated and the actual perpetrators were never brought to book.