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B’desh: Guns now enter the country in parcels

5 August 2017 No Comment

Report in Dhaka Tribune, Aug 5, 2017
by Asif Showkat Kallol & Arifur Rahman Rabbi
The government has expressed concern about the recent trend of using courier services to ship illegal firearms from Myanmar and other countries into Bangladesh, sources in the security forces have revealed.
In the first five months of this year, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) seized 19 pistols, a revolver, and 26 different types of guns.
Moreover in the past four years, BGB has seized 237 pistols, 26 revolvers, 152 guns, 5,159 rounds of bullets, 196 magazines, 60 bombs, three grenades, 47 crude bombs, 36kg of explosives and 69kg of gunpowder during smuggling.
Many of these illegal firearms and explosives were recovered from parcels sent using one of the country’s 50 licensed courier services.
“We ship thousands of parcels every day and it is very difficult to properly check each and every package individually,” Courier Services Association of Bangladesh Chairman Hafizur Rahman Pulok told the Dhaka Tribune.
He said they could check the parcels if the government provided them with scanners. “It will be easier for us to monitor then (but) scanners are costly and not all courier companies can afford them.”
“If the government provides scanners, it can then cancel licences of courier services or take legal action if any of the companies ship illegal goods. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to monitor the parcels.”
Intelligence agencies expressed their concerns about the matter in a recent meeting on combating money laundering at the Bangladesh Bank. They fear militants may take advantage of the situation and send firearms and explosives to different parts of the country without a hitch.
On June 30, for example, law enforcers arresting suspected firearms dealer Munirul Islam Chowdhury Mukul from Kutubdia in Cox’s Bazar recovered 19 firearms and 621 bullets from his possession.
RAB and BGB say most of these firearms come from Myanmar and are shipped to various places within Bangladesh.
Sources in the intelligence agencies said there were at least 119 points along the border through which firearms are smuggled. Majority of the shipments enter Bangladesh through border points in Chapainawabganj, Benapole, Satkhira, Comilla and Brahmanbaria.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal recently directed the authorities concerned to install sophisticated surveillance devices at the border and to be on the alert against the shipping of small firearms through courier services.
However, police headquarters Assistant Inspector General (media) Sahely Ferdous told the Dhaka Tribune that police cannot always check the covered vans for legal reasons. “But we check them thoroughly if we have specific information,” she added.
Abdul Halim, the managing director of licensed arms trader Smith and Anvil Limited, told the Dhaka Tribune that it was “simply impossible” for a licensed trader to send firearms via courier.
“We have to take the government’s permission to import firearms. Government authorities concerned check our shipment,” he said.
The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) – which analyses suspicious transaction reports, information related to money laundering and terror financing – is arranging an inter-ministerial meeting on the matter. It says a coordinated effort is needed to stop illegal shipment of small arms and gunpowder. http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/crime/2017/08/05/guns-enter-country-using-courier-services/

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