Suspected radical Islamists now targeting family members of police investigating them.
Police suspect radical Islamists murdered a top Bangladesh officer’s wife who has investigated numerous murders of bloggers.
In Chittagong, three men shot Mahmuda Khanam Mitu in the head at 7AM local time as she walked their son to a bus stop. Then the men stabbed her nine times before they sped away on a motorbike.
The police promoted her husband Babul Akter “after leading a slew of raids against banned Islamist extremist groups, such as Jamaat ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).” The groups have claimed responsibility for the murders of many anti-secularist and gay bloggers in Bangladesh.
Chittagong Police Commissioner Iqbal Bahar said the attack looked planned and believes “there could a link (to) militants.” The police brought in four men for questioning only. They could not provide much information “for the sake of the investigation.”
Akter received many “bravery awards for his efforts.” Militants from JMB attacked him in October, which caused him great concern for his gamily. He “recently transferred to work at police headquarters in the capital, Dhaka.”
Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) militants killed Sunil Gomes, a Christian grocer, only hours after Mitu’s death. Some men killed the 65-year-old in Bonpara, “home to one of the oldest Christian communities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.” Father Bikash Hubert Rebeiro at the Bonpara Catholic Church said Gomes also worked as a church gardener:
“He attended Sunday prayers at my church and then went to his grocery store. The next thing we know he was hacked to death,” Rebeiro said. “I can’t imagine how anyone can kill such an innocent man.”
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat said people have carried out 35 attacks in the past 14 months. The militants target “secularists, religious minorities and gay activists.” In April, militants killed Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of the country’s only LGBT magazine and employee at the U.S. embassy, and one of his friends. Amnesty International said the Bangladesh police have done enough to discourage the killings.
Sources close to Mannan show some truth to that statement since he never felt comfortable enough to report death threats:
“Xulhaz told me was receiving telephone threats and other gay people were also receiving them,” an anonymous activist told The Telegraph. “He also told me that there was a Facebook page called Voice of Bangladesh where there were these threats from Islamists, quite direct threats, against activists. At one point Xulhaz made a joke that one of these days you will find me with my throat cut.”
Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar Al Islam took credit for Mannan’s death. They also killed at least three other writers in the past year.
Last year, the Ansarullah Bangla Team sent the media a hit list of people they wanted to kill:
The email — sent after a series of deadly attacks targeting moderates and foreigners — contains a six-point directive that includes telling women to stay at home. It urges businesses to fire any female employees, and says that working outside of the home is a “punishable offense” according to Shariah, or Islamic law. It does not elaborate what would constitute appropriate punishment.
The letter is signed by the group Ansarullah Bangla Team, which is allegedly linked with several other groups that claimed responsibility for killing four atheist bloggers this year.
The list included atheist bloggers – six in Bangladesh and nine abroad – the group would kill if any returned to the country.
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