Bangladeshi security officials have announced the arrest of five local members of a militant group that allegedly intended to carry out bombings in capital Dhaka.
The Friday development came as security forces were on a hunt to capture the mastermind of a bloody assault in Dhaka last month, with authorities saying that the suspects, including four would-be bombers and a bomb-maker, were dispatched to the capital to enhance the operational capability of the Bangladesh branch of the so-called Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) terrorist group.
"All of them were from the northern part of the country and were sent to Dhaka," said chief of Dhaka’s counter-terrorism police unit, Monirul Islam, as quoted in a Reuters report.
He said the suspects had had plans to launch attacks on high-profile targets in the city but did not elaborate.
The report further cited Islam as saying that police officers recovered 25 detonators and a huge amount of raw materials for explosives at the site of their arrest in Kalyanpur, the same suburb where police killed nine suspected JMB members on July 26.
The country’s security officials have accused JMB, which has pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, of a series of attacks over the past 18 months that has led to surging concerns over the threat of militancy in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.
The attacks allegedly perpetrated by JMB include the July 1 assault on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people were killed, most of them foreigners. Daesh claimed responsibility for the cafe attack and while the government has dismissed the claim, security experts say the scale and sophistication of the assault point to links to trans-national networks.
According to the counter-terrorism chief, police believe the prime suspect in the café attack, identified as Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, is still in Dhaka.
He further stated that police are searching for him, a discharged army major-turned militant, Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque, and a third suspects known only as "Merjer" in connection with the cafe attack.