The Peace Corps has suspended operations in Bangladesh, because of possible terrorist attacks against its volunteers. The decision follows the arrest of two senior terrorist suspects in Bangladesh.
U.S. officials in Dhaka say it was not an easy decision to suspend Peace Corps operations and recall all 71 volunteers from Bangladesh. But Jonathan Cebra, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, tells VOA the move is necessary.
"The Peace Corps has come to this decision following a careful assessment of Bangladesh's security situation, and in particular the possibility that terrorist elements might attempt to attack Peace Corps volunteers while they are here in Bangladesh," said Cebra. "The decision was not reached on the basis of any single threat or incident, but it is a collection of information that has caused the Peace Corps to come to that decision."
Bangladesh suffered hundreds of bombings last August that were blamed on Islamic militants from two outlawed groups: Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Jamaat ul Mujahedeen. Two people were killed as the attacks raised the specter of terrorism in the Muslim-majority country.
Authorities made a major breakthrough this month when they captured the groups' suspected leaders in connection with the bomb attacks - Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai and Abdur Rahman.
The U.S. Embassy has welcomed the arrests, but says unfortunately they could lead to reprisal attacks - aimed against Peace Corps volunteers.
The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John Kennedy. He challenged young Americans to serve the cause of peace and their country by helping the developing world.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. The Peace Corps program was established there in 1998.