CHITTAGONG, Jun 5: The spouse of a senior police officer was shot dead near their home in the port city of Chittagong on Sunday.
The deceased, identified as Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, 32, wife of Superintendent of Police Babul Akhtar, was murdered before her first-grader son in the morning.
Babul Akhtar, an officer of the Chittagong Metro-politan Police, was promoted in April after leading many successful drives against militants. Babul Akhtar is now posted at the Police Headquarters in Dhaka.
Mahmuda was first stabbed just 300 yards from her house near the crowded GEC intersection in the port city and later shot several times to confirm her death.
Law enforcement agencies say they have been able to spot the suspected killers of the Chittagong police officer's wife rummaging through close circuit TV camera footages of the vicinity.
According to sources, three persons on a motorcycle attacked the woman at about 6:45am on Sunday at GEC intersection while she was on her way to drop off her son, Akhtar Mahmud Mahi, to a bus stop for Chittagong Cantonment Public School.
Babul, a dashing police officer, led several raids on militant hideouts and investigated several terror-related cases as the Additional Deputy Commissioner with the Detective Branch of Chittagong Metropolitan Police.
Babul Akhtar's investigations led to busting a hideout of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in October last year. The Detective Branch Deputy Commissioner of CMP Mokhtar Ahmed said, "Since Babul was in counter-terrorism, we suspect that militants are behind the murder of his wife."
Quoting witnesses, Chittagong Metropolitan Police (South) Deputy Commissioner Paritosh Ghose said that three attackers, who came on a motorcycle, ambushed Mahmuda in front of her 6-year-old son. The boy said that the attackers first took him away and then one of them stabbed his mother with a knife before shooting her. Police said that Mahmuda was shot in the head.
Police found three live bullets and a used casing on the spot. The bullet hit her on the left side of the head.
Neighbours said that Mahmuda often worried about the security of her family. "She used to say, 'We need to move from this house'," said neighbour Sharmin Akhtar, who is not related to the family. The slain also has a 4-year-old daughter.
Mahmuda used to say they were thinking of moving from their apartment in Chittagong city.
The pattern of the killing in the port city-assailants on motorcycle armed with sharp weapons and guns-resembles the murders in the last two years, for which police have blamed Islamist radicals.
Babul Akhtar and his family lived in an apartment with their 6-year-old son, 4-year-old daughter and a domestic help at a 15-storey building at the port city's OR Nizam Road.
Meanwhile, a helicopter carried Babul Akhtar to Dampara Police Lines at Chittagong. The first Namaze Janaza of Mahmuda Akhtar was held at Dampara Police Lines ground at 3:15pm.
The body will be taken to Jhenaidah, the village home of Babul Akhtar, for burial.
Masood-ul-Hasan, Additional Commissioner of CMP, said they were compelled to suspect militant ties with the murder considering her husband's run with militant crackdowns.
Police said they found CCTV footages from the adjacent areas. However, they were yet to find a tape that captured the murder. Those available showed incidents prior and post to the killing.
Three men were seen waiting on a motorbike opposite the residence of the victim's husband, Babul Akhter, said Paritosh Ghosh.
When Mahmuda came out of the house with her son, they followed her for a while. As soon as they reached a spot about 300 yards away from the house, one of the stalkers pushed Mahmuda to the ground.
Nothing more could be obtained from the footages, but, a high ranking police official choosing anonymity told this correspondent that a separate footage showed the three fleeing the spot. The man sitting in the rear of the motorcycle had a gun in his hand.
The rider of the motorcycle wore a punjabi or a fatua. The man in the middle had his face hidden behind the driver, while the third, at the rear, was a slim-figured man holding the gun.
Militants murdered the wife of Babul Akhter, to demoralise him, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Sunday.
"They (militants) might have carried out the murder for her husband's expertise in curbing militancy," the Minister told reporters after a programme held in Satkania upazila of Chittagong today. He identified Babul as an honest, capable and sincere police officer.
During his tenure in Chittagong, militants were cornered following the drives against militancy led by Babul, the Minister said.
The government will take action against those responsible for the killing of Babul's wife, he added.
Security will be provided to the law enforcers and their families who are fighting against the militants, he said when journalists asked him about the security of police officials and their family members.