Bangladesh :260 missing amid hunt for extremists


Officials on Wednesday announced that at least 261 people across Bangladesh were missing. The country’s elite security force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), published the list on Facebook around midnight and called on citizens to report the whereabouts of the missing.

“We have to find them,” RAB spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan told AFP.

The government ordered the security officials to collate the list in the wake of two major terror attacks by militants who were missing for months.

Suspected members of a homegrown terror group murdered 20 people, including 18 foreigners in an attack on an upscale cafe in Dhaka earlier this month.

The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack — an assertion rejected by the authorities.

The gruesome murders were followed by another daring assault on the nation’s largest Eid prayer congregation in which three people and an attacker were killed in a gunfight in a northern Bangladesh town.

Police and parents said the five attackers at the cafe siege and at least two gunmen at the Eid carnage were missing for months.

“If there are any missing family members, please tell us, don’t be afraid that law-enforcement agencies will take your sons away,” said RAB chief Benazir Ahmed.

“Their lives and other lives can be saved if they are found.”

Local media outlets have reported that dozens of people, including doctors, engineers and students from elite universities have travelled to the Middle East to join the IS.

In one case, engineer Najibullah Ansari was missing for over a year when his parents reached out to the police after the government launched the campaign to account for the country’s missing.

According to his family, Ansari last contacted his younger brother in January 2015 via Facebook, saying he was in war-torn Iraq fighting with jihadists.

“I have come to Iraq. Tell father and mother not to worry for me. I have come here for jihad,” read the message according to a screen shot seen by local daily Dhaka Tribune.

“I will never return home,” he added.

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