The number of people killed in an anti-drug operation in Bangladesh has climbed to 77 in less than two weeks, after the death of another nine suspected drug-traffickers in the last few hours, officials said on Sunday.
A suspected trafficker, who the police believed to be a supplier of the drug yaba, was killed in a gunfight with the Rapid Action Battalion in Cox’s Bazar district, RAB commander of the area, Ruhul Amin, told Efe news.
“Last night (Saturday) while patrolling on marine drive our team spied some riders on a motorbike carrying yaba in the Noakhali para area. When they challenged them, there was an exchange of fire,” he said.
The remaining eight deaths occurred in gunfights with the police in the districts of Mymensingh, Bagerhat, Noakhali, Chandpur, Chittagong, Kushtia, Thakurgaon and Khulna.
According to the RAB, 3,300 people have been arrested during the campaign that was launched beginning of May, and 2,795 drug dealers and users have been handed fines or jail terms in trials in mobile courts.
On May 3, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had launched the anti-drug campaign that human rights activists have compared to the aggressive drug war launched by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte in that country.
Human rights activists in Bangladesh have called the anti-drug campaign illegal.
Bangladeshi security forces, particularly the RAB, have been repeatedly accused by local and international human rights groups of carrying out extra-judicial killings in alleged encounters with criminals and terrorists.
According to the non-profit Odhikar, 3,060 people were killed by the security forces between 2001 and April 30, 2018, with 73 of the killings taking place in the first four months of this year.