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Bangladeshi 'militant' arrested

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

Security personnel inspect the wreckage at a bomb blast site in 2006
JMB has been blamed for a series of bombings in the past

A leading commander of a banned militant group in Bangladesh has been arrested, security forces say.

Mohammed Hanif is a senior commander of the Islamist group Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Officials said a huge haul of explosives had been seized.

They said they suspected that Hanif was planning attacks during the run-up to next month's general elections.

The JMB has been blamed for a string of bombings across Bangladesh in the past that left dozens of people dead.

'Regrouping'

Officers of Bangladesh's elite Rapid Action Battalion said Hanif was arrested during raids on three houses in Dhaka over the weekend in which enough explosives for 500 bombs was found.

Col Gulzar-uddin Ahmed of the Rapid Action Battalion said that bombs were possibly being prepared for an attack to disrupt Bangladesh's elections next month.

After his arrest, Hanif told reporters he did not know about any plots but admitted he was involved in a jihad, or armed struggle, against the government.

The authorities have suspected for some time that Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh was regrouping ahead of the elections.

It has been silent for the past two years, after the military-backed government took over and had six of its leaders executed.

Before that it was behind a wave of attacks on judges, secular politicians, the police and journalists.

The authorities fear it still has hundreds of trained men and may have stepped up recruitment under new leaders in recent months.



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