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Two Bangladesh ex-ministers armed militants against India

Two ministers of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government aided a banned Islamist militant outfit to procure arms for use against India and Afghanistan, a police official told a court in Dhaka.

world Updated: Dec 02, 2009 16:58 IST

Two ministers of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government aided a banned Islamist militant outfit to procure arms for use against India and Afghanistan, a police official told a court in Dhaka.

Investigator Abdul Kahar Akand named detained former ministers, Lutfozzaman Babar and Abdus Salam Pintu, for assisting Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI) in a botched attempt to kill then opposition leader and now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Aug 21, 2004.

Akand told a Dhaka court that with the help of the ministers, HuJI trained many youths, mainly madrassa students, how to operate firearms and bombs.

"Most of their recruits came from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Bangladesh. They had also mobilised funds, arms and ammunition for insurgents in Kashmir of India," The Daily Star Wednesday quoted the police official as saying.

Akand said HuJI first planned to kill Hasina and some of her party colleagues during Awami League's previous tenure in 1996-2001.

HuJI felt that the then government was "an obstacle to its campaign that included recruiting and training youths as its operatives, and procurement of firearms for fellow militants fighting in India and Afghanistan".

"When HuJI carried out the attack at an Awami League rally Aug 21, they received assistance from Babar and Pintu through Pintu's brother and Huji leader Moulana Tajuddin," Akand said before Metropolitan Magistrate Zulfiker Hayat.

Akand said Babar and Pintu had "directly helped Tajuddin flee the country and take shelter in Pakistan".

Tajuddin, who is still at large, had supplied the grenades used in the Aug 21 blasts that killed at least 23 Awami League leaders and workers and injured over 300.

The dead included Ivy Rahman, wife of President Zillur Rahman.