Hasina moves house after death threats

February 7th, 2009 - 1:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 7 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has moved residence and curtailed her movements after international intelligence agencies warned of a possible threat to her life.Some of her official programmes were curtailed Friday and she moved to the state guest house Jamuna from Sudha Sadan, her private home in a residential area, for better protection, The Daily Star newspaper said Saturday.

It quoted unnamed sources as saying that the prime minister will be staying in Jamuna for about six to seven months till her official residence, Gono Bhaban, is renovated and readied for use.

There have been at least three known attempts on Hasina’s life in recent years.

This time, the intelligence tip-offs came from the US, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, the newspaper said, quoting unnamed Bangladeshi sleuths.

Hasina could be under threat from international terrorist organisations who are in league with local extremist groups, it said. The names of the outfits were not disclosed.

Two ministers and intelligence sources reportedly said that the month of February is especially crucial.

Following the threat alert, all scheduled outdoor programmes of the prime minister were immediately curtailed.

The international intelligence sources informed Commerce Minister Faruk Khan and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni about the threat.

“She is a target, and there is no doubt about it,” a senior official of a domestic intelligence agency said.

Indian intelligence agencies had earlier informed Hasina that a suicide squad of a militant group, trained by an intelligence agency of a South Asian country, planned to assassinate her before the Dec 29, 2008, polls.

An official involved in anti-terrorism work said the security of the prime minister would be rearranged soon, and “some sophisticated security apparatus will be incorporated, especially for occasions when she will be attending outdoor events”.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj said they are assessing the intelligence inputs and taking measures to ensure foolproof security for the prime minister.

“We are always alert, since attempts were made on her life in the past,” Sohel Taj told the newspaper.

Political associates and officials have been telling Hasina that a private residence was being considered unsafe for her by her security officials ever since her Awami League party romped home in the recent parliamentary elections.

Senior government officials said the fresh threat came after the Awami League-led government expedited its efforts to try the country’s war criminals, which was one of the major election pledges of the party.

A section of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, who were allegedly involved in war crimes during the 1971 liberation struggle, are also said to maintain close connections with Pakistan and some Middle Eastern countries.

Saying that attempts were made on Sheikh Hasina’s life at least 21 times, Minister Faruk Khan added, “We will foil any attempt on her life with the support of the people.”

In the run up to the polls, Hasina had been warned by security and intelligence agencies of possible attempts on her life by Islamist terrorist groups including the banned Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJi), and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

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