Facebook post casts shadow on crackdown of alleged Islamists in Bangladesh

Abuzafar Mia

Five young Bangladeshis accused of being Islamist militants surrendered to authorities on Sunday, an official said, after a lengthy siege that prompted questions about heavy-handed police tactics.

Elite counter-terror troops surrounded a one-storey house in the central district of Narsingdi on Saturday afternoon after a tip-off that Islamist extremists were holed up there.

The information came from militants arrested in April after a raid on an extremist hideout that left 10 people including a senior police officer dead, said Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan.

The five young men in Narsingdi had “surrendered peacefully, which was our main goal”, after a siege that lasted more than 20 hours, he told AFP.

But the incident raised questions about police tactics after one of the five alleged Islamists took to Facebook to profess his innocence, urging authorities not to storm the building.

“Attention journalists and law enforcers, we are innocent. Please search us if you can find anything. We are locked from outside. Please rescue us,” Abuzafar Mia wrote on the social media website.

A second post, addressing Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina, was shared at the same time saying: ” Honourable Prime Minister, please rescue us. We are innocent. We are with the Awami League. We are victims of a conspiracy.Please rescue us. We are ordinary students. Please help us.”

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