ID :
Mon, 08/18/2008 - 10:48
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Bangladesh says it has 'crushed' Islamic militant groups

Dhaka, Aug 17 (PTI) The Islamic militant groups operating in Bangladesh have effectively been "crushed", a top security official said Sunday as the country marked the third anniversary of nationwide simultaneous blasts carried out byan extremist outfit.

"From law and order point of view, we have crushed the religious extremist groups though they often tried to regroup in sporadic manner," chief of the country's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (R.A.B.) Hasan Mahmud Khandaker toldP.T.I.

"But for effective elimination of the groups we still need to work to wage a social campaign engaging all stakeholders like religious and civil society leaders,teachers and students," he said.

Police said they intensified vigilance across the country on the third anniversary of the blasts triggered by Jamaatul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (J.M.B.) in 63 of the 64 districts ofthe country on August 17, 2005.

Only two people were killed on that day when the outfit announced their emergence through the low-intensity blasts but in the subsequent two years they carried out a series of attacks in public places leaving at least 200 people including two judges dead as part of their campaign to impose Islamicrule of their brand in Bangladesh.

The attacks prompted a countrywide massive security clampdown that subsequently saw the arrest of nearly 1,000 militants and execution of six J.M.B. kingpins including its chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman and his second-in-command SiddikulIslam 'Bangla Bhai' last year.

Police and R.A.B. officials said out of 255 convicts, 41 militants were handed down capital punishment but most of them were on the run while 85 others were awarded life imprisonmentand 129 got long terms in jail.

Khandaker said the police and R.A.B., which comprises army commandoes and specially trained policemen to fight the militants and gangsters, were carrying out a "preventive campaign" to preempt terror attacks while the social campaignappeared crucial as the elements could try to regroup.

"I, however, can tell you with all confidence, Bangladesh society will never allow the harbouring of religious militancy like some of the neigbouring countries as the people here are by nature liberal and tolerant and respectful to otherfaiths," he said.