Bangladesh police will charge 14 men with membership of a banned group after Singapore deported them for suspected militant links last year, a senior police official said on Thursday (Jan 21).
The case comes amid rising concerns over the growth of Islamist militancy in the South Asian nation, which saw a string of deadly attacks on secular writers, minorities and foreigners last year.
The suspects were among a batch of 27 construction workers that Singapore accused of having links to Islamist groups including al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
Police said they had found no evidence of links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, but that 14 of the men were members of a banned group blamed for attacks on five secular bloggers, including a publisher, last year.
"They are linked with banned Islamist militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT)," police spokesman Maruf Hussain Sarder told Reuters on Thursday.
Of the other men, one remains in prison in Singapore and the other 12 have been released in Bangladesh after they were deported.
Sarder said the 12 remained under observation and had promised to cooperate with police. "We will keep vigilant watch on them. All 12 gave us a written commitment that when ever we ask them a question they will respond," Sarder said.
Bangladesh has suffered a wave of Islamist militant violence in recent months, including a series of bomb attacks on the mosques of minority Muslim sects and Hindu temples. Islamic State militants claimed the killings of a Japanese citizen, an Italian aid worker and a policeman.
The government has denied that Islamic State has a presence in the country of 160 million people and blamed the attacks on home-grown Islamist militants.
Last month six people were wounded in a bombing at a mosque inside a naval base in the port city of Chittagong, the first militant attack on a mosque used by the country's Sunni majority.(Lin/AFP/Rtr)