Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Crackdown ordered after attacks

A Bangladeshi Buddhist monk checks the remains of burned religious books at a temple which was torched in an overnight attack in Ramu (AP)

Authorities in Bangladesh have ordered security officials to remain alert around official camps of Rohingya Muslims following weekend attacks on minority Buddhists and their temples in the area.

Some 28,000 Rohingya who fled Burma live in two official camps in the southern Cox's Bazar district, but tens of thousands of others are scattered in the region.

Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said he ordered security officials to stay vigilant. There is no clear evidence that Rohingya Muslims were involved in the attacks on Buddhists, but concerns have been raised about possible links to the violence that took place between late Saturday and early Sunday.

Bangladesh's largest-circulated Bengali-language Prothom Alo daily reported that a section of intelligence officials think radical Rohingya Muslims might have a role behind the attacks. The daily did not name any intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, prime minister Sheikh Hasina's government is blaming Islamic radicals and activists in the political opposition.

"In primary investigations, we have found that organised radical Islamic groups attacked the houses and places of worship," Mr Alamgir told reporters after a visit to the scene on Sunday.

"Activists of the opposition parties were also among the attacks."

Mr Alamgir accused local opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party politician Lutfar Rahman Kajal of instigating the attack, a charge denied by the opposition legislator.

The party's leader and Ms Hasina's chief rival, Khaleda Zia, said in a statement the government was failing to protect minority Buddhists and that she feared the government may use the violence as an excuse to crack down on the opposition.

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