Suicide blast at Dhaka airport police checkpoint

Officers near the scene where a young man detonated a device strapped to his body close to a checkpoint near the Dhaka airport. Police believe he was targeting officers, but his device exploded prematurely.
Officers near the scene where a young man detonated a device strapped to his body close to a checkpoint near the Dhaka airport. Police believe he was targeting officers, but his device exploded prematurely. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Third botched explosion in Bangladesh's capital in a week, ISIS claims responsibility

DHAKA • A man has detonated explosives at a police checkpoint near the international airport in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, killing only himself, the police said.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group claimed responsibility for the blast on social media, said the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors communications by extremist groups.

The attack was the third botched suicide bombing in Dhaka in a week.

The three episodes suggested that militant activity was re-emerging after a major police crackdown and a lull of many months.

At around 7pm last Friday, a young man approached a checkpoint at an intersection near the airport and detonated a device that was strapped to his body, said Mr Abdul Baten, the joint commissioner of the Dhaka police detective branch. The assailant died immediately and no one was injured.

ISIS has also claimed responsibility for a wave of killings since 2015 - including for a major attack on a Dhaka cafe last year in which 22 people, including 18 foreign hostages, were killed.

Mr Baten said he believed the man had planned to target officers at the checkpoint, and that his device exploded prematurely.

Police later found additional bombs in a bag the man was carrying, and one of them exploded during an attempt to defuse it, said Mr Noor A. Azam Miah, the officer in charge at the airport police station.

The suspected attack was the third since the previous Friday, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a camp for the country's elite security force near the airport. The attacker was killed and two members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), tasked with combating Islamist militancy, were injured.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but the Bangladeshi government denies the presence of the group in the country and rejected the extremists' claim.

ISIS has also claimed responsibility for a wave of killings since 2015 - including for a major attack on a Dhaka cafe last year in which 22 people, including 18 foreign hostages, were killed.

The Bangladeshi government argues a new faction of home-grown extremist group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh was behind that and other attacks.

On March 18, a man on a motorbike also tried to cross a RAB security roadblock in Dhaka carrying a bag with improvised explosive devices. Policemen shot the suspected militant dead.

The latest incident came as police in the north-eastern city of Sylhet cordoned off a five-storey building where suspected extremists were holed up early last Friday.

Police have also been carrying out a series of raids in the southern region of Chittagong and say they killed four suspected militants when they stormed an extremist hideout last Thursday.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'Suicide blast at Dhaka airport police checkpoint'. Print Edition | Subscribe