Fourth Islamist militant shot dead in Bangladesh

DHAKA: Bangladesh police shot dead an Islamist militant yesterday, the fourth killed since a crackdown was launched against suspected jihadists blamed for a wave of gruesome killings, an officer said.

The 25-year-old militant was killed during a gun battle with police in northern Bogra district, where he was suspected of bombing a minority Shiite shrine last year, the officer said. Kawser, known by one name, was the fourth member of the local Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) killed, with three “high-ranking” members of the Islamist militant group shot dead Tuesday during raids in Dhaka and a northwestern district.

The banned group is blamed for dozens of murders of religious minorities and secular and liberal activists. “Kawser was shot during a gunfight between police and JMB militants under a bridge at Shibganj in Bogra,” Bogra district police spokesman Gaziur Rahman told AFP. “He died on the way to hospital.”

“He directly took part in the bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in Bogra last October and we believe he also took part in other killing missions,” Rahman said. Separately, police on Wednesday arrested a former student member of Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami over Sunday’s murder of Mahmuda Begum, the wife of an anti-terrorism police officer.

Abu Nasar Bunnu, 40, was “being questioned by police” after he was detained on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Chittagong, police commissioner Iqbal Bahar told AFP. Bangladeshi authorities have come under mounting international pressure to end the string of attacks, which have left nearly 50 people dead in the last three years.

In addition to the murder of the police officer’s wife, in the past four days an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian grocer have been killed. Officially secular, but with a majority Sunni Muslim population, Bangladesh has witnessed a surge of similar murders in recent weeks, including those of two gay rights activists.

Authorities have blamed homegrown Islamists for the attacks, rejecting claims of responsibility from the Islamic State (IS) group and a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda. Experts say a ban on Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami following a protracted political crisis has pushed many towards extremism.-AFP

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