Dhaka: Bangladesh has detained five army officers and sacked several others for their suspected link to the last month's bomb attack on an influential close relative of the Prime Minister, as government began a high-level probe into the incident, reports and officials said on Tuesday.
35-year-old Fazle Nur Taposh, who is an Awami League party MP and also a key lawyer in the assassination trial of Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was the target of the October 21 bomb attack. While Taposh escaped uninjured, 15 others were wounded.
Amid fears of an attempt to sabotage the controversial murder trial of Sheikh Mujib, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered a comprehensive investigation into the alleged link of some "dismissed" army officers with the bomb attack on Taposh, an official at the prime minister s office told PTI.
The authorities have detained five army officers and sacked several others for their suspected link the bomb attack on Taposh, the nephew of Hasina.
An official familiar with the developments confirmed the dismissal or forced retirement of "some army officers recently". The Daily Star newspaper, quoting unidentified intelligence sources, said the detained five junior officers named six of their former superiors as masterminds behind the attack on Taposh.
The report said one of the six officers, Lieutenant Colonel Saiful Islam Joarder, was on the run. He was believed to have provided funds for the attack on Taposh. The Star report named the six officers who ranked between Brigadier and Major while several Bangla newspapers on Monday carried reports of the alleged links of several army officers in the attack.
Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun told a daily last night that the allegations against the army officers would be thoroughly investigated and "if their involvement with the incident is found, stern action would be taken".
"The matter is under investigation...whoever is found involved in the attack on Taposh must be punished," Khatun told reporters.
The Star report said the five detained army officers were hauled up for questioning five days ago and were still being quizzed. Based on their interrogation, the six army officers, including Brigadier General HRM Rokonuddin, were seen as suspects in the blast.
Samakal newspaper had yesterday named Rokonuddin as a suspect, but in a protest carried by the newspaper on Tuesday he denied his "slightest involvement" and "strongly" condemned such "anti-social and anti-state activity".
The army headquarters (AHQ) in a statement on Tuesday said a military investigation was underway about the alleged involvement of officers in the attack. It asked media to refrain from making "speculative reports" regarding the suspected links to the attack.
"The AHQ wants to assure all that stern legal action will be taken against the army officers under the Army Act, if they are found involved with the incident," the statement said.
"Bangladesh Army, the symbol of national sovereignty, is aware of and committed to discharging the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon it," said the statement issued through the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) department.