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12 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Rapid Action battalion in 2019

Anti-terror fight to gain traction

MUBTASIM FUAD, Dhaka
Anti-terror fight to gain traction

The anti-terrorism drive has again gained traction countrywide with the 11th parliamentary elections ending on 30 December, 2018. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a post-election programme, recently directed the law enforcement agencies to continue their anti-terrorism drive with a zero tolerance policy.

There was a let-up in the drive for a couple of days as a result of the focus on the parliamentary elections. But now, the law enforcement agencies have again taken a firm stand on the issue. In 2018, Bangladesh has not faced any major threats as major militant groups have lost their capacity to carry out fresh attacks.

“Militancy threats have been almost brought under control following combined efforts by law enforcement agencies, including the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and different organisations,” said Benazir Ahmed, the director-general of the RAB, at a press conference.

Lt. Col. Md. Jahangir Alom, the acting director of the RAB’s operations wing, said, “Our operation against militancy is ongoing as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed us to continue our anti-terrorism drive with a zero tolerance policy. Officials are still working closely to prevent the militants from regrouping and planning future attacks.”

The number of drives and their deadly nature were similar to those in 2017 but last year Bangladesh’s domestic militant activities showed a downward trend. Though law enforcement agencies claim they have been successful in combating and keeping militancy under control, many relatives of suspected militants killed in such operations alleged that they were picked up by law enforcement personnel in plainclothes many days before their bodies are found after a raid or operation.

The RAB has continued its anti-militancy operations across the country in the initial days of 2019 following the government’s vow to show ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and militancy.

“After 10 days of election duty which ended on January 2, 2019, RAB continued their anti-militancy operations across the country following the government’s vow to show ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism and militancy. It will have great success this year,” promised Mufti Mahmud Khan, the director of the RAB’s legal and media wing.

RAB sources said it arrested 217 people in 2018 in several drives, with 141 connected to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). In some operations, RAB seized 10 firearms, 14 detonators, four grenades, 58 Jihadi books, 14 mobile phones, 83 leaflets and other materials that can find use in bombings.

After the attack on Holey Artisan in Gulshan on July 1, 2016, 85 suspected militants were killed in the anti-militant operations of the police and the RAB since December 2018. The RAB said that all of those slain believed in the ideology of the IS and were JMB members. Among 21 operations, the RAB was active in five operations.

In 2018, numerous operations were conducted throughout the country, but two of these were notable.

On 13 January 2018, three alleged militants died and two RAB officials were injured in a raid on a six-storey building in Dhaka’s Nakhalpara. A militant group was staying on the fourth floor of a six-storey building at West Nakhalpara, near the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Three bodies were found inside a room after the raid. A firearm and two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) found inside the apartment used by the suspected militants. The raid prompted gunfire and grenade explosions.

During the operation, the JMB men had tried to trigger a big explosion by leaving grenades on a gas-stove. Seven people lived in the three-room flat. The three bodies were found in one of the rooms. The four others from the other rooms were evacuated, according to the RAB.

On October 5, 2018, a faction of the JMB plotted to carry out subversive activities at the court building of Chattogram. Two members of the faction were, however, killed in a blast inside the hideout, a tin-shed house in Uttar Sonapahar of Jorarganj union, during an operation by RAB-7.

After the end of the eight-hour drive, RAB personnel recovered an AK-22 rifle, three foreign-made pistols, five IEDs, a huge amount of grenade-making materials and some documents.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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