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Weapons seized in Bangladesh seminary: police

Security forces in Bangladesh on Tuesday recovered a large cache of weapons from an Islamic seminary as part of a crackdown on suspected militants, police said.

world Updated: Mar 24, 2009 15:16 IST

Security forces in Bangladesh on Tuesday recovered a large cache of weapons from an Islamic seminary as part of a crackdown on suspected militants, police said.

The country's elite Rapid Action Battalion found the weapons when they raided Green Crescent Madrassa, run by an Islamic charity in southern Bhola island, local police chief GM Azizur Rahman said.

"RAB officers have so far recovered revolvers, shotguns, long-barrel guns, explosives and gunpowder from the madrassa. Some students and teachers of the madrassa have been detained," he said.

Bangladesh authorities have long viewed madrassas as being recruiting grounds for Islamic militant groups. The country was hit by a series of coordinated bomb attacks in August 2005.

The seizure comes as authorities said they were investigating dozens of Muslim charities in the impoverished country over allegations they are funding militants.

Finance minister AMA Muhith told AFP the government had decided to launch the probe a month after a mutiny at a military base in the capital, Dhaka, in which Islamic militants are suspected to have played a role.

"The investigation is underway. We are scrutinising their activities," Muhith said.

He said authorities were closely investigating organisations that were created between 2001 and 2006 under the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led coalition government, which had Islamist party allies.

Thirty groups were under investigation, according to Bengali language paper Samakal, which said there were more than 78,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the grindingly poor nation of 144 million people.

It is not known how many are classed as "Islamic."

More than 70 people were killed in the mutiny last month at the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters. At least 56 of the dead were senior army officers.