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Bangladesh arrests chief of an Islamist outfit
June 24th, 2023 at 9:50 pm
Bangladesh arrests chief of an Islamist outfit

Dhaka – Bangladeshi police have arrested the chief of a homegrown Islamist outfit blamed for helping to run militant training camps in remote hills in the country’s south-east, officials said on Saturday.

Shamin Mahfuz, the head of militant group Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, was captured along with his wife Naznin Sultana at his hideout in a Dhaka neighbourhood on Friday night, said Mohammad Asaduzzaman, chief of Dhaka’s counter-terrorism unit of police.

He said the lawmen found a pistol, explosives and bomb-making material at the hideout located in Demra neighbourhood of Dhaka.

Mahfuz has been charged in an anti-terrorism case and remanded in custody for three days of interrogation, Asaduzzaman added.

Bangladeshi police said, Mahfuz founded the Islamist group in 2017 drawing former members of three banned militant groups known as Ansar al-Islam, Jamaatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Harkat-ul-Jihad, which are blamed for carrying out terrorist attacks and killing judges, secularist writers, bloggers and activists.

Asaduzzaman said the Sharqiya chief had brokered a deal for the organization to use training camps run by Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), tribal insurgent group in the remote hill of south-eastern Bandarban district.

Bangladesh’s crime-busting Rapid Action Battalion launched a crackdown late last year in the hills after the Sharqiya and KNF challenged the law enforcement agencies in the hills. The KNF carried out attacks on Bangladesh military troopers, killing at least five soldiers in the hills.

Bangladesh witnessed a wave of attacks by Islamist militants in the last decades killing more than a dozen of secularist writers, bloggers, activists, priest and man of other faiths.

An attack on a restaurant in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan left at least 22 people, including 17 foreigners, killed on July 1, 2016.

In response, the law enforcement agencies launched an offensive against the militants, killing more than 100 suspects since then.