Bangladesh cafe attack: Four female militants arrested

DHAKA • The police in Bangladesh have arrested four female members of a home-grown militant group blamed for a bloody attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people were killed, most of them foreigners, an officer said.

The police believe that Jamaat-ul- Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), played a significant role in organising the group of privileged, educated young men who carried out the attack.

The four female members of the group, aged 18 to 30, who were arrested yesterday in the north-western district of Sirajganj, were believed to have been plotting an attack, the police said.

"Acting on a tip-off, our force raided a rented house where a large amount of grenade-making materials, crude bombs and jihadi books were also found," district police superintendent Siraj Uddin Ahmed told reporters.

The women would be interrogated, he said.

Last Thursday, four other members of the banned group, including a regional head, were arrested.

The authorities have intensified a hunt for militants after five young men stormed the upmarket restaurant popular with foreigners on July 1. Among those killed were nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American and an Indian.

The five militants were killed when security forces moved in. The attack was one of the worst militant attacks in Bangladesh.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS have made competing claims for a series of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in the country over the past year.

The government has dismissed the claims and instead blamed domestic militant groups, but security experts say the scale and sophistication of the cafe assault suggested links to a transnational network.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2016, with the headline 'Bangladesh cafe attack: Four female militants arrested'. Print Edition | Subscribe