Policemen patrol the streets of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka in this file photo. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)
Law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh are on high alert following an intelligence report warning of potential militant attacks during the Eid-ul-Azha festival on Aug. 1.
Police have alerted all units across the country to take necessary measures to secure important places including airports, police establishments, embassies, government offices and religious institutions to avert subversive acts from extremists.
The measures are in response to an intelligence report warning about the re-emergence of Neo-JMB (Jamaat-ul-Mujahidin Bangladesh), an extremist outfit inspired by global terrorist organization Islamic State.
The Islamic State has decided to announce the formation of new wing for Bangladesh, Bengal Ulayat, ahead of Eid, the report warned, noting that such a declaration is made through militant attacks, said Sohel Rana, an assistant inspector general of police (media).
“Police have received an intelligence report that militant outfit Neo-JMB could try to carry out attacks centering on Eid-ul-Azha. Police headquarters have issued 12-point instructions asking all police units to be on alert, including all stations and check posts. Police have also beefed up security at various places including embassy areas and religious institutions,” he told UCA News.
"Police are not in fear. We are ready to take on all the challenges from our past experience."
Churches are aware of the militant threat and pondering necessary steps for security, said Father Albert T. Rozario, a member of the Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission.
“We are concerned about the militant threat as warned by the intelligence report. Tomorrow we will hold a discussion and decide on the necessary steps,” Father Rozario, parish priest of St. Joseph’s Church in Savar near capital Dhaka, told UCA News.
There are reasons to be afraid of militant attacks as extremist outfits often choose religious occasions for violence to get media and world attention, the priest said.
“Our police are more capable now to tackle militant threats,” he added.
Despite the extra security, a bomb exploded in the Purana Paltan area of Dhaka on July 24, but there were no casualties. The following day a bag was left on a motorbike that contained a bomb-like object, media reported. Police discovered it was a hoax as the bag was full of plastic bottles filled with sand and wrapped in tape.
Bangladesh has seen a lethal rise in Islamic militancy since 2013. Militants from Neo-JMB and Ansarullah Bangla Team, two homegrown banned extremist outfits, have hacked and shot dead about 50 people including atheist bloggers, publishers, liberal academics, religious minorities and foreigners.
In the worst attack, five Neo-JMB militants killed 20 guests including 17 foreigners at a café in the diplomatic zone of the capital on July 1, 2016.
Days later, extremists bombed the largest prayer gathering of the Eid-ul-Fitr festival on July 7, killing four people including two policemen.
In response, the government resorted to a heavy crackdown on militancy that left dozens killed in police raids on militant dens across Bangladesh. Many militants were arrested and put on trial for violence and killings.