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“All guns seized in Chittagong are manufactured outside Bangladesh”

The port city of Chittagong is a transit point in international small arms trafficking. In an interview with THE WEEK, Chittagong police commissioner Mohammad Abul Kashem spoke about his resolve to stop this menace. Excerpts:

Is Chittagong a key transit route for arms trafficking in South Asia?

I don’t agree with that assumption. Yes, there have been incidents of smuggling. We have cracked down on illegal arms trade. To understand how arms trafficking works, you have to look at the larger picture.

What is the larger picture?

All weapons we have seized in Chittagong are manufactured in foreign countries. Most of these come through the sea. There are people: the international arms companies and their dealers who sell these small arms to terrorists, criminals and underworld dons. These arms dealers enjoy political backing.

What drives the trade of illegal arms in Bangladesh?

There are two reasons behind this. First, Chittagong is a port city with a long and porous border. Second, our country is situated between the Golden Triangle of drug-producing countries and the arms-producing sub-region.

What was the most surprising thing about the Chittagong arms haul?

The involvement of our top intelligence officers was really shocking.

What steps have you taken to prevent arms smuggling?

We have improved our coastal security. There is better coordination between our coast guard and the navy. But we are aware of our shortcomings, too. We have only a limited police force.

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