Indian police to question BD cafe attack suspect

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 12 Jul 2017, 00:39:01

Indian police to question BD cafe attack suspect

Indian investigators will interrogate a suspected Bangladeshi militant in custody who allegedly took part in planning a deadly terrorist attack at a café in Dhaka last year, police officials in Bangladesh's capital said Monday, reports

Suspect Sohel Mahfuz had been at large for 11 years and was wanted by Indian police in connection with an accidental bomb blast that killed two people in Burdwan, a district of West Bengal state, in October 2014.

He was arrested along with three other suspected members of the militant group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) during a raid by authorities in Chapai Nawabganj, in northwestern Bangladesh, on Friday.

 "The police in Bangladesh and India have been looking for Sohel for a long time," Monirul Islam, chief of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) counter-terrorist and transnational crimes unit, told BenarNews. "The Indian police have shown their interest in interrogating Sohel."

A team from India's National Intelligence Agency (NIA) will be coming to question the suspect and learn more about his cross-border militant network that operated in Bangladesh and India, but an arrival date has yet to be fixed, DMP officials said.

Sohel, who had lost part of an arm in an explosion of a Molotov cocktail, was the "emir" or chief of Neo-JMB, a faction of JMB, in Bangladesh's northern districts, according to Islam.

He said Sohel had attended a meeting in which he and other Neo-JMB leaders plotted a terrorist siege on July 1, 2016 at the Holey Artisan Bakery, a café in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter that left 24 people dead, including 18 foreigners.

Islamic State claimed the attack, but Bangladeshi government officials have since denied that IS has a presence in Bangladesh, although local police have conceded that Neo-JMB - the outfit whom they have blamed for the café massacre - had aligned itself with the Middle Eastern-based terror group.

 "In addition to attending the meeting, we have information that he [Sohel] supplied arms and ammunition for the Neo JMB," Islam told a news conference in Dhaka on Monday.

He said Sohel could provide information on whether more people were involved.
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