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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 12:41 GMT
Bangladesh 'militant leader' held
Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion raid in Dhaka
A large cache of weapons was also seized in the raid in Dhaka
Security forces in Bangladesh say they have arrested the military head of a banned Islamic militant group blamed for a series of suicide bombings.

The suspected operations commander of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, Ataur Rahman Sunny, was held during a raid in the capital, Dhaka, on Wednesday.

Police say they also seized a large cache of weapons and explosives.

The group has been blamed for a series of suicide bombings since August in which nearly 30 people have died.

Spiritual leader

Lt Cmdr Mahbubul Haq Molla, of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which carried out the raid, confirmed the arrest.

Security personnel inspect the wreckage after a bomb exploded in Gazipur
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen is blamed for a series of bomb attacks

"RAB officers surrounded a dormitory of a technical institute in the city and caught Sunny from his hideout," he said.

Mr Sunny is a brother of the group's fugitive spiritual leader, Abdur Rahman.

The weapons seized in the raid in the Manda area of the capital included 50kg of explosives, 27 grenades, detonators and literature calling for a jihad, or holy war, police said.

Squadron Leader Fazal, another RAB spokesman, said: "The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen men stockpiled the arms and explosives. These weapons could cause mayhem, killing thousands of people."

A number of suicide bombings since August have targeted judges, lawyers, police and journalists.

Police have arrested almost 800 suspects, many of them members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which wants hardline Islamic law in the country.

Mr Sunny is by far the most high-profile. Police said the arrest was a major breakthrough and hoped it would lead to the detention of Mr Rahman.

Mr Sunny would be brought before the media later on Wednesday, police said.

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