Massive hunt launched for Islamic militants
Police and security forces launched a massive manhunt on Friday in western Bangladesh for the leader of an Islamic group blamed for a string of deadly bomb attacks, officials said.
Some 800 personnel from the police, paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles, and Rapid Action Battalion security force swooped down on villages in western Bangladesh in helicopters.
The raids followed tip-offs that the leaders of two outlawed Islamic groups were hiding in villages in Kushtia district, some 200 km from the capital Dhaka, additional police superintendent Abdul Baten told the agency.
"We are searching door to door for Jamayetul Mujahideen chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam, alias Bangla Bhai," Baten said, adding that the operation was ongoing.
The bombings, which have killed at least 28 people since August, were blamed on the extremist group Jamayetul Mujahideen, led by Afghan war veteran Shaikh Abdur Rahman.
Islam runs a sister outfit called Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, which was blamed for an earlier series of bombings.
Both groups were banned by the government last February.
Police say Jamayetul Mujahideen was behind more than 400 synchronised blasts across Bangladesh on August 17 and a series of subsequent bombings, including several suicide attacks. Four of the 28 dead were suicide bombers.
Leaflets left at blast sites bearing the name of the group called for the imposition of strict Islamic law in the Muslim nation.
The judiciary has been a prime target of the bombers with four lawyers and two judges among the dead.
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