3,192 arrested in anti-militant crackdown

11 June,2016

RTNN News Desk: Police arrested 37 militants and 3,155 other alleged criminals making countrywide special drive in the last 24 hours, said a press release of police headquarters today.

‘One shooter-gun, one bullet, 500 grams of gunpowder, 15 crude bombs, 21 religious texts and 15 personal diaries used for their criminal activities were recovered from them. Besides, 757 motorbikes were also seized in the last 24 hours,’ the release added.

Those detained include 37 suspected Islamist militants and hundreds of potential criminals who previously had warrants out against them, as well as several hundred ordinary arrests, police said.

Bangladesh is reeling from a wave of brutal killings that have spiked in recent weeks, with religious minorities, secular thinkers and liberal activists the chief targets.

‘Among the 37 Islamist militants, 27 are of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB),’ A.K.M Shahidur Rahman, deputy police inspector general told AFP.

The JMB is one of the main domestic militant outfits blamed by the government, which rejects claims from Islamic State group and a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda that they are behind the killings.

The country's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a meeting of her ruling Awami League party Saturday that police would stamp out the violence.

‘It may take time, but God willing, we will be able to bring them under control,’ Hasina told a meeting of her ruling Awami League party on Saturday.

‘Where will the criminals hide? Each and every killer will be brought to book as we did after the 2015 mayhem,’ she said, referring to a deadly transport blockade last year organised by opposition parties.

However, Bangladesh opposition parties immediately accused the police of using the crackdown to suppress political dissent.

‘Hundreds of opposition activists have been arrested in the police drive,’ Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told AFP.

‘In the name of the crackdown against Islamist militants, many ordinary and innocent people are being detained.’

Hasina has accused the BNP and the country's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, of orchestrating the attacks after they failed to topple the government in last year's transport blockade.


- JMB arrests –

Police detained some 350 people in the country's second-largest city of Chittagong and its surrounding areas.

They include one suspect in the murder of Mahmuda Begum, wife of a top anti-terror police officer, who was fatally stabbed and shot last weekend.

Her husband had led several high-profile operations against the JMB in Chittagong and her killing prompted the police to vow to catch her killers.

‘We suspect Shahjahan Robin as the prime offender in the murder of (anti-terror officer) Babul Akter's wife,’ Chittagong police chief Iqbal Bahar told AFP.

In recent days an elderly Hindu priest was found nearly decapitated in a rice field, while a Christian grocer was hacked to death near a church, with Islamic State group claiming responsibility for the killings.

A Hindu monastery worker was found hacked to death Friday in the northwestern district of Pabna.

Police have targeted domestic militant outfits, however, specifically the JMB, with five members of the group shot dead in gunbattles this week.

Nine members of the JMB were arrested in Rajshahi, Shariful Islam, a police inspector in the northwestern district said Saturday.

Several attacks have occurred in the district including the killing of a liberal professor in April.

As well as the arrests, police said they had seized nearly 1,000 motorcycles across the country.

Motorbikes have been used in many of the attacks, with the government recently announcing a ban on motorcycles carrying more than two passengers.

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