At least six leaders and activists of MN Larma faction of Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti were killed and three others injured in a gun attack by their rivals at the home of the organisation’s Bandarban district president near Bagmara Bazar under Rajbillai union of Sadar upazila in Bandarban district on Monday morning.
The deceased were MN Larma faction of PCJSS central vice-president Bimol Kanti Chakma, 68, advisory committee member Chingthoai Marma alias David, 56, Bandarban district unit president Ratan Tanchangya, 50, Parbatya Chattogram Juba Samity leader Pragati Chakma alias Rabindra Chakma, 50, Ripan Tripura alias Joy, 35, and Gyan Tripura alias Dipan, 32.
Of them, Ratan was a resident of Bagmara Sadar upazila in Bandarban district while the other deceased were residents of different places in Khagrachari district, police said.
The injured who were rushed to Bandarban Sadar Hospital and then were referred to Chattogram Medical College Hospital for better treatment are Niru Chakma, 50, Bidyut Tripura, 38, and Hlawaching Marma Memanu, 26.
MN Larma faction of PCJSS alleged that the gun attack was a pre-planned one and it blamed Jyotirindriya Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma-led PCJSS for the attack, which was denied by the latter.
The police, however, said that the killings happened during exchange of fire between two factions of PCJSS over establishing supremacy in the area over toll collection.
The rivalry between the two factions of PCJSS over establishing supremacy had risen since March when the MN Larma faction formed a 31-member committee for Bandarban district led by Ratan Tanchangya, insiders in CHT-based political parties said.
The murders were reported in the hills amid the allegation of abducting at least two people in the hilly area in the past one week, according to police and locals.
Rights groups said that the murders and abduction of rivals were frequent in 2018 and it decreased in 2019.
Villagers at Bagmara said that a group of gunmen wearing three-quarter trousers and combat T-shirts attacked the house of PCJSS-MN Larma faction’s Bandarban district president Ratan’s residence, opened fire on those in the house and on those fleeing the house, leaving six spot dead and three others injured in and around the house at about 6:45am.
The gunmen fled the scene and locals rescued the injured and took them to Rangamati Sadar Hospital for treatment, they said, adding that the incident happened when the PCJSS-MN Larma leaders and activists were preparing for taking breakfast.
Ratan was sitting on a chair on his veranda when the gunmen attacked them, they said and added that the attackers completed their mission within a few minutes.
Panic gripped the area since the incident and the shopkeepers who opened their businesses in Bagmara Bazar closed them and left the area.
Bandarban Sadar police station officer-in-charge Md Shahidul Islam said that they, on information, rushed to the spot, recovered the bodies and sent them to Bandarban Sadar Hospital for post-mortem examination.
Later the injured ones were sent to CMCH from Bandarban Sadar Hospital for better treatment, he said and also added that they came to know that the murders happened during exchange of fire between two factions of PCJSS over establishing supremacy.
He said that they seized empty cartridges and different equipment used by the attackers during the incident.
The OC said that no case was lodged and none was arrested until Tuesday evening.
Bandarban superintendent of police Zerin Akhter, however, told New Age that they were investigating the incident and was trying to ascertain the attackers and their motive.
She said that police and army were patrolling the area to keep the situation calm.
A number of PCJSS MN-Larma faction leaders said that a team of central leaders had been working in Bandarban for past one month to strengthen the party there.
PCJSS MN-Larma faction central information and publicity secretary Sudhakor Tripura blamed Santu Larma-led PCJSS for the attack in a planned way to eliminate their party from the area.
Santu Larma-led PCJSS central assistant information and publicity secretary Sajib Chakma said that his organisation believed in democratic movement and was not involved in any such attack.
‘It is an outcome of rivalry in their own party,’ he alleged.
None of the Bandarban district leader of Santu Larma-led PCJSS could be reached for comments despite several attempts throughout Tuesday.
On May 3, 2018 assailants shot Nannerchar upazila parishad chairman Shaktiman Chakma, also PCJSS faction vice-president, in front of his office at the upazila headquarters.
On May 4, assailants ambushed and killed United Peoples’ Democratic Front (Democratic) chief Tapan Jyoti Chakma, three of his associates and their hired driver on Khagrachari-Rangamati road at Bethchari while they were on their way to the funeral of Shaktiman.
On May 28, three UPDF members were shot dead and another was injured at Korolyachari of Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati.
On August 18, 2018, seven people, including four UPDF-backed organisation leaders, were killed and 10 others were injured in gun attacks on them at two places in Khagrachari.
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