DHAKA: Bangladesh security forces Friday arrested three suspects wanted over the murder of a Japanese farmer who was shot dead last month in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said the three youths had been detained early Friday in a hideout 210 kilometres (130 miles) from Rangpur where 66-year-old Hoshi Kunio was gunned down in a rickshaw last month.
After arresting them for an unrelated firearms offence, officers became suspicious and interrogated the men over Kunio’s murder, leading them to admit to their “involvement” in the killing, a spokesman for the elite unit told AFP.
“We have confirmed these men are wanted as fugitive criminals from Rangpur,” said senior RAB commander Mobasshwer Rahim.
“Their appearances also match the description of the unknown assailants who shot Hoshi Kunio dead.”
The suspects, named as Rajib Hossain, Kala Rubel and Kajal Chandra Barman, were found in the hideout armed with machetes and handguns, the force said.
The officers were initially acting on a tip-off about known criminals carrying illegal weapons.
“During primary questioning they’ve admitted they were involved with the killing and since then they became fugitives,” Rahim said.
“We’ve handed them over to police for further interrogation.”
The arrests take the total number in custody to five after police last month detained an opposition party activist and a businessman in connection with the murder on a dirt track on the outskirts of the northern city.
Others in custody
The other two remain in custody although they have not been named as suspects.
Shortly after Kunio’s murder the Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement carried by US-based extremist monitoring group Site Intelligence.
However, the Bangladesh government has denied the IS claim of responsibility, saying there is “no presence of (IS) militancy” in the Muslim-majority nation.
Kunio was a frequent visitor to Bangladesh and worked on a farming project in Rangpur, about 300 kilometres north of the capital Dhaka, where he grew grass for cattle. His murder came less than a week after an Italian aid worker, Cesare Tavella, was shot dead in similar fashion in Dhaka, an attack also claimed by IS.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has blamed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, for instigating attacks on foreigners and “triggering anarchy”, a claim rejected by the parties.
Police have arrested four “hired assassins” over the Italian’s murder on September 28.
Bangladesh has been roiled by rising Islamist violence in recent months, with the killings of four atheist bloggers, Sufi Muslim leaders, a publisher and two policemen since the start of the year claimed by extremists.
Experts say Islamist militants pose a growing danger in conservative Bangladesh, warning that a long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government. -AFP
We're sorry, this article is unavailable at the moment. If you wish to read this article, kindly contact our Customer Service team at 1-300-88-7827. Thank you for your patience - we're bringing you a new and improved experience soon!