Bangladesh's elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) claims to have destroyed a terrorist training camp in the jungles of Mymensingh district in the country's northern region, capturing 26 terrorists including their trainer, an Afghan war veteran having connections with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
RAB, which has been interrogating those arrested, said the terrorists belong to the outlawed Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) that had carried out a series of bomb blasts across the country on August 17 last year, The Daily Star reported.
Among those arrested, RAB identified one as Abdur Rouf of Madaripur, a teacher of Jibontola Jamia Islamia Nurul Ulum Koami Madrassa, who allegedly supplied bombs to 27 districts for the August 17 bomb blasts.
The elite battalion also recovered bomb-making materials and training equipment from a terrorist den in Jibontola village of Bhaluka sub-district. The den had four bunkers and two sentry outposts, the paper said.
A 30-member team of RAB-9, led by Lt Col Nurul Momen and Flight Lt Faisal, carried out the raid on the remote jungle in Jibontola and captured the militants while they were receiving training, it said in a front-page report from Mymensingh.
Those arrested, all bearded with caps on, claimed they were students of Jibontola Jamia Islamia Nurul Ulum Koami Madrassa and were exercising as part of their regular studies.
However, RAB sources claimed that three of them later admitted that they were receiving military training there.
RAB personnel also recovered some electric wires, several small bulbs, three mobile SIMs, pieces of iron used in fishing nets, several transistor circuits and a container of powder.
Rouf has been arrested several times from Faridpur and Cox's Bazar in 1993 and 1995, the daily said.
On September 19, 2003, he was arrested again along with 18 others, including madrassa principal Shahidul Islam, from a BNP leader's house at Boalmari in Faridapur.
After his arrest from Faridpur he told reporters that he had received guerrilla training in Pakistan in 1989 and participated in the Afghan war against former Soviet Union for four years.
According to reports, the terrorists are trying to regroup in northern and northeastern regions of Bangladesh after a downturn in their activities following arrests of most of their top leaders.
Also nabbed was Nuruddin Haider, founder of the madrassa, following the RAB raid on the terrorists' hideout. He allegedly used to patronise the terrorists.
There has been an arrest warrant against him in connection with a case filed by the forest department.