Bangladesh police arrest senior terrorist figure involved in cafe attack

Published 11.06.2017 15:39

Bangladesh police on Sunday arrested a businessman accused of being a major figure in the terrorist group blamed for a cafe attack that killed 22 people, mostly foreigners.

Imran Ahmed, who runs a garment factory, and his driver were arrested in a raid just outside the capital Dhaka, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) counter-terrorism force said in a statement.

The RAB alleges Ahmed, 37, is a key decision-maker in Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a homegrown terrorist outfit accused of last year's deadly attack on a Dhaka cafe frequented by foreigners.

Lieutenant-Colonel Kamrul Hasan, a RAB commander, said Ahmed was an important figure in the outlawed group.

"He also spent a lot of money to buy weapons and explosives for the group," he told AFP.

Police seized a pistol and literature about terrorism from the men, who were on the run when they were apprehended.

Ahmed is also accused of helping a high-profile militant evade authorities in the northeastern city of Sylhet after the group allegedly staged twin bomb attacks there in March.

Six people, including the head of RAB's intelligence wing, were killed in the violence.

Bangladesh has been reeling from a spate of terrorism in recent years, with dozens of foreigners, secular writers, atheist activists and religious minorities killed.

The Daesh terrorist group and Al-Qaida have claimed responsibility for a number of attacks. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has denied their involvement and blamed local groups for the carnage.

Since the cafe attack, security agencies have killed some 70 militants in raids and shootouts. Among them was a Bangladeshi-origin Canadian said to be the head of a new JMB faction and the mastermind of the cafe attack.

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