DHAKA: Bangladesh police have arrested an additional 2,000 suspected criminals including Islamist militants in an ongoing crackdown on extremists following a spate of gruesome murders, an officer said on Sunday.
More than 3,000 people, including suspected ordinary criminals with existing warrants against them, were arrested on Saturday after police launched a controversial anti-militant drive across the Muslim-majority nation.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed on Saturday to catch “each and every killer” as Bangladesh reels from a wave of murders of religious minorities and secular and liberal activists that have spiked in recent weeks.
Among those arrested in the latest sweep were 48 suspected militants, many of them members of banned group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), police said.
“We have arrested 2,132 people including 48 Islamist militants on the second day of the special drive,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police A.K.M Shahidur Rahman told AFP.
JMB is one of two local groups blamed for most of the recent killings. The government rejects claims of responsibility from the militant Islamic State group and a South Asian branch of Al Qaeda, saying international jihadists have no presence in Bangladesh.
The arrests come as a part-time imam was detained in north-western Pabna district over the latest killing, that of a Hindu ashram worker hacked to death on Friday.
“He is a suspect and is being questioned over the murder,” said local police chief Abu Quddus.
In addition to the arrests, police said they had seized nearly 1,000 motorcycles. Motorbikes have been used in many of the attacks, with the government recently announcing a ban on motorcyclists carrying more than one passenger.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2016