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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 08:06 GMT
Bangladesh arrests Muslim militants

By Alastair Lawson
BBC correspondent in Dhaka

Police in Bangladesh have said the arrest of five members of a hardline Islamist group with bombs and explosives may be linked to a series of bomb attacks in the country over the last year.

The five were arrested on Tuesday in the western town of Chapainawabganj.

The police action against the little-known Jamaat ul Mujahideen group is highly significant because it reflects a recognition by the government that hardline Islamist groups do operate in the country.

Ministers over the last year have been at pains to deny reports in the Western media that the country has provided a haven for al-Qaeda and Taleban elements.

But over the same period, Bangladesh has been hit by a series of bomb explosions which many people blame on radical Islamist groups.

Last year, at least 18 people were killed in several explosions in the northern town of Mymensingh. More recently, there was another bomb attack in the town of Dinajpur.

The police have said there is no link between the recent arrests and the activities of international terror organisations. Ministers point out that Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country of a 130 million people, is a keen supporter of the US war against terror.

It now looks as if that war is going to be fought domestically as well. Police say documents confiscated from those arrested called for a holy war in the country.

Dhaka rejects Indian al-Qaeda claims
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27 Nov 02 |  South Asia
Dhaka's row over radicals
05 Jul 02 |  South Asia
Bangladesh denies al-Qaeda claim
10 Nov 02 |  South Asia
US backs Dhaka over al-Qaeda claim
21 Oct 02 |  South Asia
Country profile: Bangladesh
01 Nov 02 |  Country profiles

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