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Bangladesh arrests three members of banned Islamist group

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh detained three suspected members of a banned militant group, police said on Sunday, as security forces step up a hunt for Islamists behind a spate of recent attacks.

Bangladesh has suffered from a wave of Islamist violence, with two foreigners, four secular writers and a publisher killed this year. Some of the attacks have been claimed by Islamic State.

The three men, who were active members of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, were caught in an overnight raid in the capital, Dhaka, Monirul Islam, a police joint commissioner, told reporters, as the handcuffed men were paraded before the media.

A mobile phone network jammer and jihadi books were found in their possession, Islam said. Preliminary investigation showed the jammer was used during meetings to avoid leaking information, he said.

The group was believed to be behind a series of recent attacks, including bombings of a Shi’ite shrine and the killing of a policemen, police said.

Tension has been rising in Bangladesh since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched a crackdown on militants, putting several leaders on trial for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence.

Islamic State also claimed responsibility for an attack late last month on a Shi’ite Muslim mosque that killed a cleric and wounded three other people at prayers, the second attack on the country’s tiny Shia Muslim community in a month.

The government has denied that Islamic State has a presence in the country. It blames Islamist political opponents for instigating the violence.

Reporting by Ruma Paul, edting by Larry King

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