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  New Terror Tactics in Bangladesh Threaten Christians
Up to 70 militants were arrested in police raids in the northern district of Tangail during a gun battle with police, officials said, but there were no reports of injuries. The other detentions, carried out in areas across the country, took the number of suspects, including many students, held in the week to Sunday to at least 200, police said.

Bangladesh has been rocked by a wave of bombings since August 17, blamed on Islamic militants seeking to turn the mainly Muslim nation into a sharia-based Islamic state. Religious rights groups, including Christian Freedom International, have said the government is not doing enough to end the growing influence of Islamic radicals.

However the ruling pro-Islamic Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), elected in October 2001, has suggested it has difficulties facing and dealing with these threats.


In a development that has added to concern among Christians and former Muslims, Bangladesh's leading national Bengali daily newspaper reported recently that the Intelligence Department had informed the government that Islamic militants are planning to attack the largest non-Muslim religious centres in Dhaka.

They were also threatening to kill local and foreign non-Muslim leaders, missionaries, priests, and humanitarian workers and anyone else preaching religion other than Islam. Christianity was to be particularly targeted for the purpose of discrediting the government of Bangladesh in the West, the newspaper reported.

Islamic radicalisation skyrocketed in Bangladesh since October 2001 causing local persecution of Christians and impacting the church, analysts say. The Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group is also targeting Bangladesh's secular courts and judges, and threatening to continue until Sharia is implemented.

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