New Age
KNF attacks 3 Bandarban banks, loots arms, cash

KNF attacks 3 Bandarban banks, loots arms, cash

Members of armed groups carried out separate attacks targeting banks and security facilities in remote hilly areas of bordering Bandarban district between Tuesday night and Wednesday, looting at least 12 firearms, 400 bullets, Tk 17 lakh in cash, and abducting a bank manager, officials said. The home minister, Asadussaman Khan, suspected that the ethnic rebel group Kuki-Chin National Front was behind the attacks, describing the situation as a ‘new phenomenon.’ The minister told New Age that peace talks that were underway with the KNF would now be halted following the incidents in Ruma upazila on Tuesday night and Thanchi upazila on Wednesday afternoon. Bank authorities suspended transactions in the Ruma, Thanchi, and Rawangchari areas on security grounds following the incidents. Witnesses said that over 100 members of the armed group entered Sonali Bank’s Ruma upazila branch and searched for the key to the bank vault. They found the cashier of the branch, who informed the group that the key to the vault was with the bank manager. Based on information, they stormed into the local mosque and held devotees hostages at gunpoint. Ten guards and members of law enforcement agencies were also held hostages and beaten up. They dragged the manager, Nezam Uddin, out of the mosque, but upon failure to get the vault key from him, they abducted him, according to government officials and witnesses. Bandarban deputy commissioner Shah Mujahid Uddin, in a report to Cabinet Division on Tuesday night, wrote that over a hundred Kuki-Chin members cordoned the Ruma upazila parishad complex, cutting the electric supply of the upazila sub-station between 8:20pm and 9:20pm, and held people offering prayers at the mosque hostages. They took away their phones and money and abducted Sonali Bank’s Ruma branch manager. In a similar internal report prepared by the Bandarban district police, it was said that over 100 Kuki-Chin, mostly wearing their uniforms, carried out the first attack at Ruma, taking  advantage of a ‘planned’ power outage around 9:00pm. Bandarban police superintendent Saikat Shaheen stated in his report that the assailants looted two SMGs and their 60 bullets, eight rifles with 320 bullets of police, and four shotguns and 35 bullets of Ansar. A local government official said on Wednesday evening that the armed group had established communication with the family of Nezam and sought Tk 10 lakh in ransom. The Criminal Investigation Department’s inspector, Rafikul Islam, said they found the vault intact and no cash was looted from it. Following the incident, inspector general of police Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun and Special Branch of Police chief, additional inspector general Monirul Islam, flew to Bandarban to review the security arrangements. While top police officials were visiting Bandarban, the armed group carried out two more attacks in 40 minutes in remote Thanchi. Mohammad Mamun, Thanchi’s upazila nirbahi officer, told New Age that the armed group looted Tk 15 lakh from Sonali Bank and Tk 2.45 lakh from Krishi Bank. None were injured or attacked, he said, adding that the army and other security forces were patrolling now as people were tense. The police deputy inspector general (operations), Anwar Hossain, told New Age that they had mobilised the regular force along with the Armed Police Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh. Sonali Bank deputy general manager Md Osman Ghani said that they had suspended banking transactions in the Ruma and Thanchi branches until the repair was completed, while operations at the Rawangchari branch were kept suspended on security grounds. The Kirshi Bank also followed in Sonali Bank’s footsteps. The home ministry launched peace talks in the past year after several army and KNF members were killed and injured in 2022 and 2023. In November 2023 and March 2024, two peace dialogues between the armed group Kuki-Chin National Front and a delegation of the Bangladesh government were held at a remote village in Ruma upazila, following a series of virtual meetings over the preceding months. Five soldiers of the Bangladesh Army were killed in recent months in fights with the armed group. Following the army operations in the CHT, the KNF leadership said that they were ready for talks. The Inter Services Public Relations Directorate has accused the KNF of creating anarchy in the deep forests of Thanchi, Ruma, and Rawangchari upazilas of Bandarban through rampant murders, abductions, and human rights violations. On June 1, 2023, soldier Tuzam of the Bangladesh Army was killed in an explosion in Ruma upazila during a raid on a KNF hideout. Earlier on May 16, 2023, two soldiers—Touhidul Islam, 20, and Altab Hossain, 24— were killed while two officers were injured in an ambush and explosion in Bandarban. On March 12, 2023, the army’s master warrant officer, Nazim Uddin, was shot dead and two others were injured after the KNF allegedly ambushed an army patrol in a remote area of Rawangchari upazila of the district. In February 2022, an exchange of fire at a remote village in Ruma upazila left senior warrant officer Habibur Rahman dead and a soldier named Firoz injured. A number of civilians were also killed in the area. On May 8, 2023, three members of the Bawm community, including a ward-level ruling Awami League leader, were found killed near a small village in Rawangchari upazila. They were all residents of Ronin Para in the upazila. On April 7, 2023, the police recovered eight bodies of men in military camouflage in the hilly area of Rawangchhari, several hours after residents had heard the sounds of a ‘gunfight’. The police identified the deceased as KNF activists.
Published on: 2024-04-03 20:53:40.689074 +0200 CEST