Saturday, February 12, 2005

BANGLADESH: International Agencies eye Chittagong arms haul for blast probes

+ All the international investigation agencies said the grenade blasts are linked to the Chittagong arms consignment, said the sources. They said the international investigators observed that finding out the source, destination and couriers of the arms, hauled in Chittagong on April 2, 2004, was very important for unmasking the culprits behind the grenade attacks. Law enforcing agencies seized 1,790 firearms, including AK-47 rifles, rocket launchers, Chinese submachine guns, submachine carbines, anti-tank rifles, and auto-spotting rifles, when they were loaded in trucks in a jetty in the River Karnaphuli, near Chittagong port. +

12/02/2005

Int’l agencies eye Ctg arms haul for blast probes

Chittagong arms haul is the focal point of international investigation agencies for the investigation of the bomb and grenade blasts in Bangladesh.

Sources said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, requested by the government to investigate the January 27 blast in which former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria was killed, focused on the arms haul in Chittagong to begin with the assignment.

The US agency expressed similar opinion when its team came to Bangladesh after the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka. The leader of the opposition in parliament, Sheikh Hasina, escaped the attack; 23 were killed.

Scotland Yard investigators who came to Bangladesh after an attempt on the British high commissioner, Anwar Chowdhury, at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal, in which three people were killed on May 21, 2004, said the investigation should begin with the arms recovery in Chittagong.

Interpol investigators, who came to Dhaka after the August 21 grenade attack, also made similar observations.

All the international investigation agencies said the grenade blasts are linked to the Chittagong arms consignment, said the sources.

They said the international investigators observed that finding out the source, destination and couriers of the arms, hauled in Chittagong on April 2, 2004, was very important for unmasking the culprits behind the grenade attacks.

Law enforcing agencies seized 1,790 firearms, including AK-47 rifles, rocket launchers, Chinese submachine guns, submachine carbines, anti-tank rifles, and auto-spotting rifles, when they were loaded in trucks in a jetty in the River Karnaphuli, near Chittagong port.

In the biggest-ever arms and ammunition recovery in Bangladesh’s history, the law enforcers also seized explosives, including 1,143,520 bullets, 6,392 magazines and 27,020 hand grenades.

The police arrested 14 people, mostly truck drivers, assistants and boatmen, in connection with the recovery. Seven of them are now in jail; the remaining seven are free on bail.

The FBI agent who came to Dhaka this week held a series of meetings with officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs to work out the terms of reference for a full investigation to be carried out by the US agency.

The prime minister, Khaleda Zia, on February 7 was informed by the US ambassador to Bangladesh, Harry K Thomas, of the possible terms of reference for ‘US law-enforcement assistance.’

They agreed that the ‘matter should be pursued with appropriate officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs.’

The prime minister at the meeting also assured Washington of all supports for the investigation of the January 27 grenade blast.

The US administration earlier made it clear that its investigators would have to be given full access to all evidences after the government had sought the US agency’s cooperation in the investigation of Kibria’s killing.

The US assistant secretary of state, Christina Rocca, reportedly told the minister for foreign affairs, M Morshed Khan, that they could provide intelligence assistance if Dhaka gave them full access to all evidences.

The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, talked with Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina on the matter over telephone.