HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bangladesh hunts for top fugitive Islamist leader

SYLHET, Bangladesh, March 1 (Reuters) - Bangladeshi security forces closed in on a house in a northeastern town where the leader of a militant Islamist group was believed to be hiding, officials and witnesses said on Wednesday.

Some 500 members of an elite police force had surrounded the two-storey house in Sylhet in an overnight siege where Shayek Abdur Rahman, supreme leader of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group, and his associates were believed to be holed up.

At least four small explosions were heard from inside the building and smoke could be seen, a Reuters reporter said.

Shayek's group and another radical Islamist organisation, the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, have been blamed for a wave of bombings in the impoverished nation since August that have killed 30 people and wounded 150.

The crackdown came a day after a district court sentenced 21 activists of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen to death for their role in nationwide serial bombings last Aug. 17.

The death penalties were the first to be handed down for the attacks, when nearly 500 bombs went off simultaneously.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh are fighting to impose Islamic sharia law on Bangladesh, a mainly Muslim democracy.

Witnesses at the house in Sylhet, some 400 km (240 miles) from Dhaka, said that police had made repeated announcements over a loudspeaker, urging the militants to surrender.

But one man hiding inside the house shouted : "Go back, officers. We won't give up until we establish the rule of Allah."

Journalists gathered on the street outside were asked to leave as commandos of the Rapid Action Battalion, wearing bullet-proof jackets and helmets, moved closer to the building.

A police officer said earlier that security forces might eventually storm the house if the militants did not give themselves up.

"We are trying to persuade them to come out. But they seem adamant," said another officer.

Hundreds of people believed to belong to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh have been detained since the bombings, but Shayek and Jagrata Janata chief Bangla Bhai remain at large.

A Bangladeshi court last month sentenced the two to 40 years imprisonment each for their involvement in a suicide bomb attack in November in which two judges were killed.

at least two militants were sentenced to prison terms (Additional reporting by Nizam Ahmed)

Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org