Bangladesh to track missing students after attacks

PM Sheikh Hasina called on every school, college and university to "create a list of absent students and publish it"

Afp July 10, 2016
"We stand with the bereaved", a reference to the deadly attack on a cafe in Dhaka that killed seventeen foreigners and five Bangladeshis, including two policemen PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA: Bangladesh Sunday ordered schools to notify the government about truant students in the wake of two deadly attacks by suspected extremists, several of whom were at elite universities but had been missing for months.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on every school, college and university to "create a list of absent students and publish it".

Bangladesh has been reeling from dozens of attacks since the turn of the year, mainly targeting secular activists or religious minorities.

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"We will be rigorous," the premier said. "We must uproot militancy and terrorism from Bangladesh."

Three of the alleged terrorists who participated in an attack on a Dhaka cafe last week, in which 20 hostages were murdered, attended top schools and universities in the Bangladeshi capital.

The revelation that the attackers were educated, well-off members of society has sparked fears that 'Islamism' has spread far beyond disenfranchised youngsters being radicalised in madrasas.

School authorities would now have to provide information on any students who have an unexplained absence of 10 days or more, education minister Nurul Islam Nahid said.

Bangladeshi authorities have so far only given code names of the cafe assailants after interrogating a gunman who was captured alive, but they have released photos of their bloodied corpses.

Another student of a well-regarded university also participated in a deadly attack in northern Bangladesh on Thursday that killed at least three people at a huge prayer gathering marking the start of Eid.

Police said both attacks were carried out by a banned local militant group, despite vocal claims from the Islamic State group that they were responsible for the siege at the Dhaka cafe.

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Police last week said they were trying to find former reality TV star and musician Tahmid Rahman Safi after allegations emerged that he joined IS.

Safi, the son of a former-top government bureaucrat, was identified by his friends after he appeared in an IS video, lauding the cafe siege and threatening more attacks.

"We are investigating all those who are reported missing," a Dhaka police spokesperson told AFP.

Authorities, meanwhile, have launched a publicity blitz, urging parents to closely monitor their children with television channels broadcasting photos of missing students and advertisements to deter extremism.

On social media, many have expressed their concern over the missing.

"Missing young men are potential moving bombs now. They can strike anywhere, any time," Mushtaq Ahmed, an entrepreneur, posted on Facebook.


M. Emad | 5 years ago | Reply Bangladesh suspect that some of the missing students now are in Pakistan.
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