Friday, June 13, 2008

8 bandits beaten to death in Natore

One shot dead during Rab-robber gunfight

Villagers beat eight robbers to death while another was shot dead during a gun battle with Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) personnel at Bias Adimpur of Shingra upazila in Natore early yesterday.

All nine of them were in their 20's and seven of them were identified. They are: Al Amin of Bias, Yunus of Durgapur, Helal of Sukash in Shingra upazila, Saiful and Vaina of Paota village, Yadul of Langolmara and Abdul Barik of Dighoria in Tarash upazila of Sirajganj.

Rab quoting locals said the gang was engaged in criminal activities including robberies and killings.

The incident occurred around 1:30am when the gang of at least 13 gathered on Adimpur Primary School ground prior to launching an attack on the village, 90km from divisional headquarters of Rajshahi.

But more than 100 villagers were lying in wait for them around the field with the gang oblivious, witnesses said. The villagers chased the gang and a few of them managed to flee while most jumped into a pond, finding no escape route, on the northern part of the school compound.

The villagers encircled the pond as announcements were made through loudspeakers of mosques alerting other villagers about the criminals.

The gang opened fire on the villagers in a bid to scare their way out of the situation. Rab personnel tried to negotiate their surrender but the criminals kept on firing forcing Rab to retaliate, said officials of Rab and police present on the scene requesting anonymity.

The criminals later ran out of ammunition and the law enforcers asked villagers to get the criminals out of the pond, witnesses claimed.

The villagers got them out of the pond, took them to the school ground and gave them a mass beating. Six of them died on the spot and the law enforcers were able to rescue two of them but they died on their way to Singra Health Complex 35km away.

The body of the other criminal was found in the pond with a bullet wound in the head.

Two locally-made guns and three bullet shells were recovered from the criminals while two other similar guns were retrieved from the pond.

Policemen were looking for more arms in the pond at the school ground as of yesterday afternoon.

"Attacks by robbers are not uncommon at the village during the harvest period. Besides, our suspicion about a possible attack became stronger as we started noticing movement of unknown people," said M Shahin, a local and a witness to the incident.

"As we started noticing movement of unknown people, we arranged regular watch with Rab and police help at the village and its surrounding areas," said Tarek Hossain Dulal, a member Dahia union parishad.

Abdul Quayyum, a local trader, said, "The criminals might have targeted three businessmen who collected handsome money through Halkhata [annual collection of outstanding dues] just a day before."

Dahia Union Parishad Chairman M Sarful Islam said, "Three weeks ago villagers complained to Rab about the movements of alleged criminals and Rab-5 arranged for an awareness meeting in the village."

Lt Col Israt Hossain, director of Rab-5, visited the spot. Additional forces of Rab and police were deployed at the village.

Rab-5 in a press release last evening said that a combined team of Rab personnel from Rajshahi Railway Colony camp and Singra police were on patrol at Bias, Ayas and Kholabaria villages.

They rushed to neighbouring Bias Adimpur village hearing a hue and cry.

The release said the patrol team saw villagers surrounding a gang of robbers in a pond at the north corner of the school and heard announcements being made from loudspeakers of mosques urging to resist the robbers.

The team took position at a corner of the pond, the release said.

The release claimed that the gang fired around 20 shots to frighten and disperse the villagers and the patrol team. The team retaliated to protect lives of locals and government properties, the press release read.

As locals stepped back during the firefight, robbers tried to flee but the mob caught a number of them and started beating them indiscriminately.

They rescued two unidentified robbers from the mob and seized two firearms and ammo from them. However, the two succumbed to their injuries on their way to a health complex, the release said.

Later the law enforcers pacified the mob. They recovered six bodies of the robbers.

The release said another body and two firearms were found in the pond.

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