Police in Bangladesh have arrested five suspected Islamist militants believed to be plotting to attack New Year celebrations, a counter-terrorism police chief said yesterday.
The five were believed to be members of a faction of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group, which was blamed for an attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July in which 22 people were killed, most of them
“They planned to attack on New Year’s Eve,” Monirul Islam, head of the counter-terrorism police unit, told a news
Islam declined to elaborate when asked about the militants’ target and how they planned to attack but said police had also seized 60kg (132 lb) of explosives, when the five were detained in overnight raids in the capital.
The five were paraded before the media but did not speak to reporters.
Authorities have already banned all outdoor gatherings in Dhaka from dusk on December 31 to dawn on January 1 on
security grounds.
Militant attacks have increased in mostly Muslim Bangladesh, a country of 160mn people, over the past few years with several prominent liberal writers and members of religious
minorities killed.
The JMB has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which police believe was involved in organising the attack on the cafe in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter on July 1.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for what was the worst militant attack in
Police have killed more than 40 suspected militants in raids since the cafe attack, including the man police said was the mastermind, Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.
According to police sources, several women militants are
active in the country.
Most of them are members of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Hizb ut-Tahrir, and Nobbo (New) JMB. These militant outfits now have in their ranks privileged, educated young men and women.
Although law enforcement agency members have so far failed to determine the number of women involved in militancy, recent operations in different parts of the country have exposed the increasing number of women militants in Bangladesh.
During the operations conducted at Dakkhinkhan, Kalyanpur, Narayanganj and Gazipur, law enforcement agencies found evidence of women suicide bombers being present in these organisations. At least 20 women militants have so far been detained from different parts of the country.
Abdul Baten, joint commissioner of Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told newsmen last week that most of the women militants detained so far were relatives of male militant leaders.
According to sources, militant outfits use their female members as a distraction.
An intelligence official explained that this technique is known as the ‘couple module’. The militant groups pair up a female and a male member who identify themselves as husband and wife.
“It’s usual that male militants will try to attract female in order to implement their couple module technique… accordingly male militants influence their wives to get involved into militancy. We are trying to know why women, who are not paired, are increasingly getting involved with militancy,” said another
intelligence official.
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