Arrests in Bangladesh anti-militant drive top 8 000

2016-06-13 18:13
Relatives wait to meet prisoners outside the Dhaka Central Jail. (AP)

Relatives wait to meet prisoners outside the Dhaka Central Jail. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dhaka - Bangladesh police said on Monday they have arrested more than 8 000 people in a nationwide crackdown launched after a wave of murders targeting minorities and secular activists.

Authorities have come under mounting international pressure to end the attacks in which nearly 50 people have been killed over the last three years, many hacked to death with machetes.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed at the weekend to catch "each and every killer" and on Monday police spokesperson Kamrul Ahsan said 3 245 suspects had been arrested, raising the total to 8 192 since Friday.

Opposition parties have accused the government of using the crackdown to suppress political dissent.

Deputy inspector general of national police AKM Shahidur Rahman said most of those arrested were criminal suspects with existing warrants against them, rather than suspected militants.

"Only a fraction of the people who have been arrested are members of Islamist militant groups," he said.

The crackdown comes after five suspected Islamist militants were shot dead in gun battles with police in recent days.

It is thought to have been triggered by the murder this month of Mahmuda Begum, wife of a top anti-terror police officer.

The officer had led several high-profile operations against the banned group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), members of which were among those arrested in the latest sweep.

JMB is one of two local groups blamed by the government for most of the recent killings. Authorities reject claims of responsibility by the Islamic State group (ISIS) and a South Asian branch of al-Qaeda and say they have no presence in the country.

Premier Hasina accuses the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist party ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, of orchestrating the killings to destabilise the country.

Hindu priest decapitated

A BNP spokesperson said police had detained more than 2 100 of its activists across the country.

"Police have arrested and harassed opposition activists and ordinary people in the name of the crackdown. Also many of our activists have fled their homes, fearing arrests," Rizvi Ahmed told AFP.

"Police have said several suspected militants have been shot dead in crossfire. Instead of putting them into trials, these suspected militants are being eliminated in cold blood."

Last week an elderly Hindu priest was found nearly decapitated in a rice field, while a Christian grocer was hacked to death near a church.

ISIS claimed responsibility for those murders as well as that of a 62-year-old Hindu monastery worker on Friday.

Bangladesh is officially secular, but around 90% of its 160 million-strong population is Muslim.

Other victims have included liberal activists and secular bloggers along with two foreigners and two gay rights activists.

Mubashar Hasan, an expert on political Islam, said the crackdown risked further alienating hard liners who feel they have no choice but to join the militants.

A previous government crackdown on government opponents - including a ban on Jamaat - following a protracted political crisis is widely blamed for pushing many Bangladeshis towards extremism.

"While fighting militants on the ground is important, winning hearts and minds of people is crucial so that more people do not join militancy," said Hasan, of Dhaka's University of Liberal Arts.

National police chief Shahidul Hoque defended the crackdown, saying only those suspected of wrongdoing were being picked up.

Read more on:    bangladesh

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.