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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 16:44 GMT
Top Bangladesh militant captured
Abdur Rahman in his house before surrendering
Mr Rahman is blamed for a bombing campaign
The fugitive leader of an outlawed Islamic militant group has surrendered to police in Sylhet in north-eastern Bangladesh after a 30-hour stand-off.

Abdur Rahman gave himself up with two others early on Thursday and was taken away for questioning, police said.

He leads the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) which officials blame for a wave of attacks in which at least 28 have died.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia went on national television to praise what she called a blow against extremism.

We are so glad that we have been able to get him alive
Abdul Aziz Sarkar
Security official

"What many rich nations couldn't achieve, we've managed through the intelligence of our security forces and their sincerity," the prime minister said in a speech which drew parallels between Abdur Rahman and Osama Bin Laden

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Dhaka says the government, which includes Islamic political parties, has been under real pressure to crack down on militants.

Phone tap

The siege involved more than 500 elite troops and police. A phone tap gave away Mr Rahman's location, reports say.

Members of the elite Rapid Action Battalion RAB), police and paramilitary forces surrounded Mr Rahman's two-storey house in Sylhet late on Tuesday night and used loudspeakers to urge him to give himself up.

Police said he finally emerged on Thursday, walking out of the house slowly holding a book in his left hand.

They said a bomb, a number of detonators and Islamic publications were recovered from the house.

"We are so glad that we have been able to get him alive," RAB head Abdul Aziz Sarkar, who had overseen the operation, told the Associated Press agency.

Bombings

The wife of Mr Rahman and eight others were taken into police custody on Wednesday after they were sent out from inside the house.

One of the wounded in Gazipur bomb attack being taken to a Dhaka hospital
Judges and court rooms have been targeted by bombers

Earlier this month, Mr Rahman and another top JMB leader, Siddiqul Islam, alias Bangla Bhai, were sentenced in absentia to 40 years in prison for a bomb attack which killed two judges last November.

Officials say they are now stepping up the hunt for Bangla Bhai.

Last August, some 500 bombs were set off in all but one of Bangladesh's 64 districts in the space of an hour. Three people were killed and about 100 injured.

A number of subsequent bomb attacks have targeted judges and court rooms.

More than 100 cases have been filed against alleged members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen in connection with the bombing campaign.

The militant group has been demanding the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in the country.


SEE ALSO:
Bangladesh 'militants' sentenced
20 Feb 06 |  South Asia
Sentencing over Bangladesh bombs
09 Feb 06 |  South Asia
Bangladesh ends 'militant' hunt
20 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Bangladesh 'militant' sentenced
16 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Bangladesh plans anti-terror law
21 Dec 05 |  South Asia
Bangladesh 'militant leader' held
14 Dec 05 |  South Asia


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