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Bangladesh Islamist prisoners snatched from police

February 23, 2014

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Dozens of gunmen on Sunday exploded bombs and opened fire on a van transporting three prisoners who belong to a banned Islamist group in Bangladesh, snatching the men and killing a police officer, an official said.

About 25-30 attackers arrived in two cars as the van was heading from a prison in Gazipur district, near the capital, Dhaka, police official Firoz Talukdar said. The convicts are members of Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, a group that wants to establish strict Islamic law in the Muslim-majority nation, he said.

One policeman was killed and three others were injured as the attackers took the three prisoners, Talukdar said.

By Sunday evening, police had recaptured one of the escaped convicts, Rakibul Hasan, said local police chief Hasibul Alam.

Hasan told police that the plan to free the men was made two weeks ago, Alam said.

Talukdar said two of the convicts had been sentenced to death, while the third was serving a life sentence. It was unclear what crimes the men had been convicted of.

Police said they detained at least three suspects in the attack hours after the incident.

The attack took place in Mymensingh district, 112 kilometers (70 miles) north of Dhaka.

The government says that Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh was broken up after the radical group’s top six leaders were hanged in 2007, but that it is trying to regain strength.

The six were hanged after the group bombed government offices and courts.

Update hourly