The Atia Mahal experience


At a press conference on Tuesday, the military authorities in Sylhet announced that the 111-hour armed operation on the militant den in Atia Mahal in the town had ended. Ten persons had died in the operation, including members of the security forces and militants. Several were injured including two members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). There is much to be learnt from this experience for future planning and action against militant activities.

The most successful part of this operation was managing safely to bring the residents of the Atia Mahal building out, without harm. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that two police officers were killed and two RAB officers seriously injured. It was said they were injured in explosions.

It must be noted that this was not a militant attack. It was the security forces that carried out the raid on Atia Mahal upon information that militants were holed up in the building. The number of casualties fatalities and the duration of the operation indicate the actual strength of the militants and the high risk involved. It must be examined whether there was any lack of caution during the operation. The experience from this operation must be put to use to keep casualties to the minimum in future such operations.

Sources from among the security force carrying out the operation have said that militants in this country are now proficient in manufacturing bombs. They rent houses in crowded areas and are bold enough to use these hideouts to make their explosives. This is a matter of grave concern.

It needs to be determined how to control these militants, to ensure that they do not increase in number. The intelligence must step up vigilance on militant activities. It is also important to control the smuggling , transportation, buying and selling of explosive substances. If the militants can so easily amass explosive substances in their houses, this poses as a threat to the public and to the security forces.

Strong public resistance against militancy must be built up alongside action by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies. If everyone in every area I vigilant and cautious, the militants will not be able to rear their heads.

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