DHAKA, Bangladesh – Bangladesh police announced Wednesday that they have arrested four suspects accused of killing a Saudi diplomat in Dhaka earlier this year and it appears the incident was a street crime gone wrong.
Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, a 45-year-old official in the Saudi Embassy’s consular section, was shot and killed 30 metres (yards) from his home shortly after midnight on March 6. Days after the killing, Saudi Arabia sent a team of investigators to consult with Bangladeshi detectives.
Police official Mollah Nazrul Islam said Wednesday that the four Bangladeshi men arrested this week told investigators they tried to rob the diplomat as he was going for a walk on the deserted street and shot him accidentally during a scuffle.
He said the men were detained after a revolver and a car used in the killing were found in their possession. The men are now remanded in custody for further questioning.
Historically, Bangladesh enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, which is a top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Saudi Arabia is a key ally of and a major donor to Bangladesh. More than two million Bangladeshis – a quarter of the impoverished nation’s large migrant population – work in the Muslim kingdom. There was also outrage last October when eight Bangladeshis were beheaded in the Saudi capital after being convicted for robbery and murder.
Last year, the US government accused Iranian agents of being part of a foiled plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, and Israel has accused Iran of attacks or attempted attacks on its diplomats in India, Thailand and Georgia this year. Iran has denied all of the accusations. In May 2011, gunmen in Karachi, Pakistan, killed a Saudi diplomat, and Pakistani police said they suspected that shooting was motivated by anger over Saudi Arabia’s decision to send troops to Bahrain, where the majority Shiites are challenging the rule of the Sunni monarchy. Saudi Arabia is overwhelmingly Sunni. Saudi Arabia’s recent talk about arming Syrian rebels has likely further irked Iran, which is allied with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.