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Burdwan blast mastermind's wife, 8 others held in Bangladesh

PTI 23 Nov 2014, 21:07:30 PM IST

Dhaka:  The wife of the prime accused in the Burdwan blast was today arrested along with three of her aides by Bangladesh Police which also nabbed another five suspected militants, including a Pakistani national, as authorities stepped up crackdown against terrorists.

Fatema Begum, who confessed to provide militant training to at least 25 women in India, is the wife of Burdwan blast prime accused Sajid, said Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

The October 2 blast in Burdwan in West Bengal killed two people and prompted India's National Investigation Agency(NIA) to expand their probe to Bangladesh-based militant groups.  Fatima is the chief of women's wing of banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), said Rahman.  

JMB is believed to have plotted to target Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and main opposition leader Khaleda Zia.  “She was held along with three of her associates from Dhaka's Sadarghat along with explosives, bomb-making materials and jihadi books,” Rahman said.

Police spokesman Monirul Islam said Fatima is “the wife of Sajid, the prime accused of Burdaman blast.” Fatima's arrest came after the NIA provided significant intelligence about her, said Islam.

An NIA team that visited Dhaka last week to probe the Burdwan blast had provided names and up to 15 mobile phone numbers to Bangladesh Police to help them crack the case.  Fatima has confessed to have trained women who joined JMB in Shimulia area of Kolkata.

“Three women trained those interested to join JMB, Fatema was their coordinator. They sought members from the poor and middle income group. They convinced the poor people to join JMB by offering them rehabilitation,” Islam said.  

The police spokesman said Fatima confessed the explosives recovered from them were meant to launch attacks in India and Bangladesh in line with the directives of their chiefs.  Another five suspected militants, including a Pakistani man, were arrested in the southern port city of Chittagong.  The Pakistani national, identified as Mohammad Alam, held a Pakistani passport.

But he claimed he is the director of the Netherlands-based voluntary outfit Global Rohingya Centre.  In the last two decades, the Rohingiyas have been forced to move to Bangladesh from Myanmar because of ethnic clashes there.

Though some allege they are now involved in criminal activities abroad. NIA recently arrested Khaleed alias Khalid Mohammed—a member of Rohingya Solidarity Organisation—from Hyderabad in connection with the Burdwan blast.

Khaleed, an expert in Improvised Explosive Devices, has confessed to having received militant training from Pakistan's Tehrik-e-Insaf on behalf of Myanmar outfit Tehrek-e-Azadi Arakan.

Bangladesh has about 34,000 registered refugees at the camps in Cox's Bazar, but another 200,000 to 300,000 Rohingyas are believed to be living in the country, according to government.