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Islamic group leader held over blasts

DHAKA, Sunday (AFP) - Bangladeshi police have arrested a suspected leader of a hardline Islamic group and three other militants who planned to attack judges as part of a deadly campaign to impose strict religious law, an official said Saturday.

Police caught Abdul Awal, 29, at a bus stand in the northern town of Thakurgaon late Friday, police superintendent Khandaker Golam Faruq told AFP.

Awal's arrest was the most high-profile since police stepped up a campaign to round up militants after last week's murder of two judges by a suspected member of the banned Islamic hardline group Jamayetul Mujahideen.

Awal is accused of being a regional leader of Jamayetul Mujahideen, Faruq said.

"Awal is also a son in-law of Jamayetul Mujahideen chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman," Faruq said. Rahman, a graduate of Medina University in Saudi Arabia, founded the hardline group in the late 1990s after fighting in Afghanistan.

Faruq added three more suspected militants were arrested in nearby Panchagarh with bomb-making equipment. "We arrested the three" on information given by Awal, Faruq said.

The three told police they were awaiting the go ahead from Jamayetul Mujahideen leaders to stage bomb attacks on judges in Panchagarh district, Faruq said.

Jamayetul Mujahideen has been linked to two series of blasts August 17 and October 3 and recent bomb attacks on judges and courts across the Muslim- majority South Asian nation.




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