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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 16:18 GMT
Bangladesh man on sedition charge
By Waliur Rahman
BBC News, Dhaka

Abdur Rahman in his house before surrendering
Rahman could face the death penalty if found guilty
The captured leader of an outlawed Islamic militant group in Bangladesh will face sedition charges, the country's home minister says.

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

He was arrested after he surrendered to an elite force on Thursday, following a long siege at a house in Sylhet.

Officials say the security forces are now trying to arrest other militants.

Abdur Rahman had been accused of involvement in dozens of attacks even before his dramatic arrest following a 33-hour siege at his hideout.

But officials say none of those cases are related to sedition.

The charges so far brought against him include murder, and supplying explosives to the members of his JMB group.

But opposition and human rights groups have been demanding that Mr Rahman be charged with sedition, because the wave of bombings he is alleged to have been involved in had targeted the country's courthouses.

His banned Islamic group is also seeking to abolish Bangladesh's secular laws in order to replace them with strict Sharia laws.

Death penalty

Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babor said the acts committed by Rahman amounted to a war against the state.

Rapid Action Battalion members at the bomb site in Gazipur
The JMB has been blamed a number of bombings
"He must face sedition charges for what he did against the country," he told the BBC.

He said the procedures were underway to file sedition cases against him in a few weeks' time.

Convictions in sedition cases are very rare in Bangladesh, but the charges carry the death penalty.

Mr Babor said the security forces have stepped up an operation to arrest Mr Rahman's deputy, Siddiqul Islam, who is better known as Bangla Bhai.

The pair has been blamed by the government for the series of blasts since August last year, which as well as killing nearly 30 people have injured several hundred others.

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