Bangladesh nabs four militants linked to cafe attack

DHAKA • Bangladesh security forces yesterday arrested four members of a militant group blamed for an attack on a cafe in Dhaka last year which killed 22 people, most of them foreigners.

The July attack in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and was the worst militant attack in Bangladesh, which has been hit by a spate of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in the past few years.

The four men arrested, aged 21 and 28, were members of a faction of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militant group, known as New JMB, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS and which police believe was involved in organising the cafe attack.

"One of them was the IT head of the group," said Mr Mufti Mahmud Khan, spokesman for the police-led Rapid Action Battalion, which is involved in counterterrorism efforts. The computer engineer, Ashfak-e-Azam, 25, ran the website and social media operations for the group.

The four were arrested in a raid on a house on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, Mr Khan said, adding that firearms and explosives were found.

The police have killed around 50 suspected Islamists in raids since the cafe attack, including the man that police said was the attack's mastermind, Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Bangladesh nabs four militants linked to cafe attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe