Five militants deported from Singapore arrested

Dhaka, May 4

Police in Bangladesh have arrested five men deported from Singapore as part of an investigation into an alleged Islamist plot to carry out attacks in the South Asian country, authorities in Dhaka said.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said yesterday it had detained eight other Bangladeshi men who were planning attacks in their homeland, using the name Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB).

The five men returned to Bangladesh were not involved with that group, the MHA said, but were found during the same investigation to be in possession of jihadi-related material or to support the use of armed violence for a religious cause.

Dhaka city police spokesman Maruf Hossain Sardar said the five, who travelled to Singapore between 2007 and 2011, were being investigated for possible connections with local militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

Islamist militants in Bangladesh have targeted atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in a series of killings that dates back to February 2015 and has claimed at least 20 lives.

The Islamic State and a group affiliated to al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks but Bangladesh authorities have dismissed the claims as ‘baseless’ and said homegrown militant groups were responsible.

Bangladesh authorities have said that the Ansarullah Bangla Team  was behind the attacks on online critics of religious extremism and the killing last month of a gay rights campaigner and his friend.