Handcuffed militant blasts grenade at media meet in Bangladesh

February 21st, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 21 (IANS) An arrested Islamist militant being paraded before the media in Bangladesh threw himself on a pile of grenades on display and detonated one of them, killing himself and injuring 15 policemen and journalists, media reports here said Saturday.
The incident occurred Friday evening at Gazipur in Dhaka Division near the national capital as police officers were briefing the media on that morning’s arrests of a group of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operatives.

Gazipur Superintendent of Police Abdul Baten said the militant Mamun alias Zahid flung himself on the seized grenades on display and managed to pull the pin out of one. In a split second, he hurled the grenade at the police and journalists there.

Quoting experts and officials in Dhaka, The Daily Star said Zahid could explode the improvised grenade only because of the “laxity” of the police that had failed to diffuse it six hours after the arrest.

The explosion “had the hallmarks of a suicide attempt”, the newspaper said.

The wounded policemen include Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Joydevpur Police Station Abdur Rashid, Abdul Hanif of Detective Branch in Gazipur, two sub-inspectors and three constables.

The newsmen are Nasir Uddin of NTV, Fazlul Huq Morol of Channel i and a local journalist Dablu Rahman.

With this incident, the government, fighting a grim battle against religious militancy, also stumbled upon the fact that JMB is not an all-male body.

Three veiled women - Mina, 45, Noor Jahan, 32, and Marzia, 25 - were among those nabbed and paraded.

Noor Jahan “took a SIM out of a cellphone and broke it into pieces with her teeth in the blink of an eye” when police raided their hideout, the newspaper said.

The women acted like trained militants, and destroyed the papers and documents in their bags so that police could get little evidence, said Sub-inspector (SI) of Tongi Police Station Sirajul Islam.

The women did not admit that they were JMB members, claiming that were related to JMB activists.

JMB is a banned outfit that figures in many attacks against moderate Muslims, teachers and artistes, political opponents including the Awami League and the Left parties and Hindu religious minority.

Baten said police believe the JMB cadres were preparing to attack programmes of Ekushey, the International Mother Language Day that is being celebrated across the country Saturday.

The elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police have beefed up security in and around the venues of the programmes.

On Aug 17, 2005, JMB staged near simultaneous blasts in 63 out of 64 districts, and left the nation rattled. They struck again on Nov 14 the same year, killing two senior assistant judges and wounding three people in a suicide bomb attack in Jhalakathi.

Following their conviction for these killings, six top leaders of the JMB were hanged in April 2007.

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