Bangladesh arrests 15 Islamist suspects in major sweep

Bangladesh police arrested 15 suspected members of a banned Islamist extremist group from the country's second-largest city, officials said Saturday.

Chittagong police conducted multiple arrests across the port city, including the regional commander and activists of the outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) group, police spokesman Shah Abdur Rouf said.

"The militants were being reorganised in the city," he told AFP, adding police recovered laptops, mobile phones, jihadist books, and cash to be used for "subversive activities".

The group was banned in the South Asian nation in 2009 for carrying out "anti-state and anti-democratic" activities.

The London-based HT, which calls for a caliphate for all Muslims, has been operating for decades around the world.

It was banned in Bangladesh in 2009 for carrying out "anti-state and anti-democratic" activities.

Bangladesh has seen a spate of fatal violence caused by Islamist extremists in recent years, including the 2016 Islamic State (IS)-claimed cafe attack in Dhaka which killed 22 people, mostly foreigners.

Sheikh Hasina's government launched a major nationwide crackdown following the cafe attack, killing over 100 alleged Islamist extremists and rounding up hundreds of suspects.

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