CrisisWatch N°155


01 July 2016

Controversial counter-terrorism efforts exacerbated tensions between ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) as target killings continued. Hindu priest killed 7 June by attackers in Jhenidah Sadar sub-district; Hindu temple volunteer hacked to death 10 June in Babna Sadar sub-district. Islamic State (IS) reportedly claimed responsibility for both attacks. In first apparent instance of extremist retaliation against police, wife of senior police official hacked to death in Chittagong 5 June. Police 7 June killed three suspected Jamaat Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants in Dhaka, Rajshahi and Brahmanbaria. Govt 10 June launched weeklong crackdown on jihadist groups, reportedly arresting over 11,000 people; civil society activists claimed mass extortion by police during operation, while opposition accused govt of using counter-militancy efforts as pretext to target political opponents, reporting that majority of detainees were BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) activists. PM Sheikh Hasina insisted “BNP-Jamaat clique” had replaced previous mass street agitation with “secret killings” to destabilise country. Police 6 June pressed new charges against BNP leader Khaleda Zia and 38 other BNP figures in arson cases from Feb 2015 violent govt-opposition clashes. International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) 6 June upheld Nov 2014 conviction and sentencing of senior JeI member Mir Quasem Ali for atrocities committed during 1971 war of independence. High Court 7 June granted bail to Daily Star editor, Mahfuz Anam in ten out of 82 sedition and defamation charges brought against him after he admitted to publishing uncorroborated reports on PM Sheikh Hasina’s alleged corruption. Six-phase local council polls concluded 4 June, with a record of over 120 people killed in election-related violence before and during polls; most deaths reportedly linked to intra-Awami League clashes.