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Alarm in Bangladesh over rise of militant groups

Minister expresses fears after nationwide arrests

Alarm in Bangladesh over rise of militant groups

Members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team with some of their seized arms and equipment (Picture by Shahadat Hossain) reporter, Dhaka

August 27, 2013

There is deepening alarm in Bangladesh over the sudden emergence of several militant groups, a government minister said on Monday.

“Some of these outfits are undergoing Taliban-type training and trying to introduce religion-based politics. We are taking this seriously,” said Law Minister Shafique Ahmed.

Ahmed was speaking to journalists during a three-day conference in Dhaka on money laundering and terrorist financing, organized by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The minister’s statement follows this month’s arrest of members from two militant outfits - Ansarullah Bangla Team and BEM - with large caches of munitions, military training manuals and Jihadist publications.

Monirul Islam, Dhaka police joint commissioner, said a total of 31 people have been arrested in connection with the two groups, in various parts of the country.

“Ansarullah Bangla Team follows the Al-Qaeda model, while BEM follows the principles of the banned militant group Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh who want to make Bangladesh a Sharia-based country,” he said.

Catholic rights activist Rosaline Costa has blamed the major political parties - the ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party - for the rise of the militant groups.

“In the past years, the ruling party didn’t take tough action against Islamic hardliners, fearing political backlash in elections, while the opposition supported Islamists to upset the government. Militant groups have grown in the unstable backdrop of rivalry between the political parties,” she said.

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