Bangladesh hunts more extremists ahead of Kerry visit
Bangladesh police said on Sunday they were hunting more extremist leaders after shooting dead the suspected mastermind of a deadly cafe attack, on the eve of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit.
Security forces stormed a militant hideout outside Dhaka on Saturday, killing three suspected Islamists including the Bangladesh-born Canadian accused of organising last month’s attack that killed 22 people, mostly foreigners.
Authorities say that after returning from Canada in 2013, Tamim Chowdhury led a faction of the banned militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), blamed for a series of recent attacks on religious minorities.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the July 1 siege of the upmarket Dhaka cafe in which gunmen held hostage mainly Western diners including one American, before killing them.
But police say the homegrown JMB, which has pledged allegiance to the IS group, was behind the raid. They deny the presence of international jihadist groups. “We’re hopeful we can now capture and eliminate other extremists including Zia,” assistant inspector general of police, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, told AFP.
Police suspect Zia, a former army major whose full name is Syed Ziaul Haque, heads another local extremist group called Ansar al Islam, blamed for the machete murders of a dozen secular writers and two gay activists.