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Bangladesh detains suspected Islamist militant - report

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Bangladeshi police have detained a man suspected of organising a bomb attack on a mosque in Hyderabad in May and providing support for bombings in August in the same city, a news agency reported.

File photo of policemen on guard at the site of a blast in front of Mecca Masjid, the main mosque in Hyderabad, May 18, 2007. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/Files

The Press Trust of India (PTI) said on Monday - citing sources in Indian security agencies - that the detained man was a member of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), a Bangladeshi Jihadi group originally set up during the Afghan war against Soviet occupation.

Indian police suspect the HUJI of bombing the historic mosque in India’s technology hub of Hyderabad in May in an attack that killed 11 worshippers.

The Bangladesh-based group is also suspected by Indian officials in two bombings in Hyderabad on Aug. 25, in which 40 people were killed.

PTI said the suspect operated under code-names such as “Hamza” and “Kanchan”.

Bangladesh security officials reacted cautiously to the report.

“Sorry, I cannot confirm it at the moment,” Hasan Mahmud, a top Bangladeshi security official, told Reuters in Dhaka.

Over the weekend, the police commissioner of Hyderabad said four people had been arrested in connection with May’s mosque bombing, saying that the Bangladeshi group could be behind both attacks in the city.

The four arrested were held on suspicion of transporting high explosives from Bangladesh to India.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation told Reuters that “it was trying to get more details on the issue”.

Indian officials believe that Hamza reports to Shahid Bilal of HUJI, who is the chief suspect in the twin bombings in a park and a street food outlet in Hyderabad on Aug. 25, and who officials said had a key role in the mosque attack.

India has a long and porous border with Bangladesh, and New Delhi believes Pakistani Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba works closely with HUJI, with a network of militants - including Indian Muslims - slipping across into India.