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Saturday, August 05, 2006

US urges Bangladesh to uproot terror network

DHAKA (AFP) - A senior US State Department official urged Bangladesh to uproot the terror network that still exists despite the recent capture of top Islamic militants.

"Bangladesh has made some important strides against terrorism by capturing the leaders of JMB (Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh)," Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told reporters on Thursday.

"Still, it is very important to continue to fight terrorism in Bangladesh... 400-500 bombs cannot be set off by half a dozen people," Boucher said at the end of a two-day visit.

"But also we know that more people are out there, the networks out there that have not been discovered and uprooted yet," he said, adding the US government was enhancing its counter-terrorism cooperation with Bangladesh.

Boucher's comments came as security forces raided a jungle hideout of the Islamic militants and captured 25 of them including an Afghan war veteran.

The raid was the biggest by Bangladesh security agencies in recent months. It followed intelligence reports that militants were regrouping in the countryside.

Mainly Muslim Bangladesh has mobilised thousands of troops and policemen in its fight against Islamic militant groups since August 17, 2005, the day the country was rocked by over 400 bombs set by off the little-known JMB.

The JMB also carried out a series of later attacks on government buildings, courts and police stations, killing at least 28 people and injuring several hundred.

Established in 1998 by Afghan war veteran Shaikh Abdur Rahman, it wants to establish Islamic shariah law.

Security forces have arrested Rahman and other top JMB figures. One thousand suspected lower-level JMB militants have also been arrested and are being tried.

In May a lower court sentenced Rahman and six other JMB leaders to death for their part in the killing of two judges.

The government has said it woke up late to the threat to Bangladesh's secular democracy posed by Islamic extremist groups and has pledged to root them out.
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