Bangladesh’s elite anti-terrorism unit detained yesterday three suspected members of a militant group believed to be behind a spate of recent attacks in the South Asian
country.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh has seen a rise in Islamist violence in which liberal activists, members of minority Muslim sects and other religious groups have been targeted.
The detainees were members of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and were arrested in a raid conducted in the northwestern district of Rajshahi, said Rumman Mahmud, a deputy director of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
Sixteen crude bombs, seven petrol bombs and jihadi books were
also found in their possession, he added.
The group is believed to be behind attacks such as the bombings of a Shia shrine and the killing of two
foreigners.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, including the killing of a Hindu priest last month, but the government has denied the militant group has a presence in
Bangladesh.
US-based monitoring organisation SITE has reported that the IS group said in a statement it is behind the murder.
The government rejects the IS group’s claims of responsibility for several of the attacks, including the shootings of two foreigners last year.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular government instead accuses the JMB, other local militant groups as well as the Islamist-allied political opposition of trying to destabilise the country.
A long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government and analysts say Islamist extremists pose a growing danger.
Hindus, the country’s largest minority, make up nearly 10% of Bangladesh’s 160mn people.
At least five militants of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen have been killed in shootouts since November, as security forces stepped up a crackdown on Islamist militants seeking to make the moderate Muslim nation of 160mn a Shariah-based state.