India, Bangladesh planning raids against militants: officials

India, Bangladesh planning raids against militants: officials

Indian and Bangladeshi security forces are planning to carry out simultaneous raids against Islamist militants along the porous border and the two countries have exchanged lists of terror operatives active on both sides of the frontier, officials said here today.

"It's important to conduct simultaneous drives so that the militants don't find hideouts to escape arrest," said a senior Bangladeshi police official preferring anonymity as a four-member delegation of National Investigation Agency (NIA) wrapped up a four-day visit here as part of probe into last month's Burdwan blast, allegedly carried out by Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants.

The official added that the militants have found safe havens in Bangladesh-India border areas due to intensified security operations in both countries.

NIA and Bangladesh's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) exchanged lists of JMB operatives and Islamist militants believed to be hiding in the two countries as the visiting NIA delegation held meetings with senior home ministry officials and security agencies in Dhaka.

Officials said NIA team, led by its director general Sharad Kumar, handed over a list of 11 suspects of the Burdwan blast, 11 being "top wanted Indian nationals" in connection to the Burdwan blast.

RAB, on the other hand, gave a list of 51 fugitive Bangladeshis, 10 of them said to be JMB activists and several others being members of Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) alongside some gangsters as the two sides exchanged intelligence on cross-border militancy and other crimes.

Bangladesh recently constituted a six-member team to work on militancy and extend support to NIA in its investigation.

A police spokesman earlier said there were some common names of JMB operatives in the two lists but they needed to verify the lists as the militants often use different names to evade detection.

Police, however, suspect the number of fugitive militants is 260 who are hiding in the border areas and are active.

According to newspaper reports India's "wanted" list contains names of Kausar, Yusuf Sheikh, Borhan Sheikh, Rezaul Karim, Talha Sheikh, Amjad Ali Sheikh, Abul Kalam, Shahnur Alam, Habibur Rahman Sheikh, Zahirul Sheikh and 'Nasirullah'.

Bangladesh had said it would share its intelligence on JMB, which is allegedly responsible for the October 2 blast in Burdwan town in West Bengal.

Bangladesh's list included JMB's present chief Sohel Mahafuj and members Salauddin Salehin alias Sunny and Jahidul Islam alias Boma Mizan, Anwarul Islam, 'Sakhawat' and Abu Sayed Sheikh Hossain.

The list also includes four absconding HuJI members Maulana Tajuddin, Shafiqur Rahman, Jahangir Alam Badar and Mufti Abdul Hai, blamed for a deadly 2004 grenade attack on current prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

The NIA visit came after Indian police earlier this month arrested alleged JMB Burdwan module chief Sajid Rahmatullah, who is said to be a Bangladeshi national, while RAB captured his brother identified as Mohammad Monayem in Bangladesh.

NIA has been investigating militant networks after the blast at a house in Burdwan, which turned out to be a clandestine bomb-making facility.

Two suspected militants had died in the explosion and their two wives, also believed to have been trained by the JMB, were arrested.

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