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Asia

Islamist Militancy Raises its Head Again in Bangladesh

Security forces in Bangladesh have been investigating a link between a British-based charity and an Islamic school where a huge cache of weapons and bomb making materials were found on Tuesday. The latest probe comes following last month’s mutiny in Dhaka, in which Islamists are suspected to have played a role.

Large arms cache seized from Bhola madrassa on 24 March 2009

Large arms cache seized from Bhola madrassa on 24 March 2009

After the mutiny in February, the government now fears a militant Islamist attack. The Bangladeshi Home Ministry said that the militants could attack the secretariat building, parliament, garments factories or any other key point installation.

The Deputy Leader of the parliament Sajeda Chowdhury says that they could even try to kill the Prime Minister. The life of the President is also considered to be under threat. "The militants and war criminals are trying the kill Prime Minister because we are trying to bring them to justice."

At least 74 people, mostly army officials, were killed in the mutiny, launched by paramilitary troops just a few weeks ago in the heart of the capital. Various national and international agencies have been investigating the deadly incident. More than 700 border guards have been arrested.

'Islamist' links to mutiny

The authorities believe that the carnage has a connection with Islamists. Communications Minister Farook Khan said that the border guards who escaped arrest may now be hiding with militants. He has requested civilians to assist the police in this matter:

"I request you all to give information about them. They have escaped with arms and ammunition. Please help the police to arrest them."

Security expert Colonel Rashid believes that militants are now even present in the government administration and some political parties.

"They have political umbrella. Even now they are in administration and government offices under a different name."

General Muruzzaman told that after the BDR mutiny different groups are trying to create unrest in the country.

"Some groups are trying to take opportunity of this situation," says Muruzzaman. "Their target is to disturb the government."

No threat to image

But Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni says the situation is not out of control. "I think the militant activities are not so dangerous now. We can tackle the situation. And the people are peace loving here. We have a positive image."

The new government took power three months ago. But the security situation and militant threat remain a crucial problem. On Tuesday, a huge number of arms and ammunitions were recovered from an Islamic school in the coastal district of Bhola. Booklets on Jihad or holy war were also found.

Bangladeshi authorities have long viewed Madrassas with suspicion as being potential recruiting grounds for Islamists. They have also been investigating Muslim charities over allegations they are funding militants. They have also arrested three people in connection to the recent raid. But one person is still on the run.

  • Date 25.03.2009
  • Author Harun Ur Rashid Swapan (Dhaka) 25/03/09
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  • Date 25.03.2009
  • Author Harun Ur Rashid Swapan (Dhaka) 25/03/09
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrtV