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Human Rights Experts Denounce Bangladesh Arrests

Members of Bangladesh Police Detective Branch escort Sumon Hossain Patwari in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Human rights experts have spoken out against a recent sweep of arrests in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh officials say they have arrested more than 11,000 people in a sudden and drastic response to the wave of brutal killings by suspected Islamist militants.

But New York-based Rights group Human Rights Watch is skeptical that this large number of arrests is founded on adequate investigations, or that this will effectively reduce violence in the country.

“The mass arrest of thousands upon thousands within the course of a few days is a familiar scene in Bangladesh, but does little to inspire confidence either that these ghastly killings will stop or that due process will be followed,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch's Asia director.

“After a slow and complacent response to these horrific attacks, Bangladesh’s security forces are falling back on old habits and rounding up the ‘usual suspects’ instead of doing the hard work of carrying out proper investigations," he continued.

The statement released by Human Rights Watch Friday cited media reports that say police are accepting bribes to release many of those detained.

Police have arrested thousands of people since last Friday in a crackdown on the violence that has targeted more than 30 victims in Bangladesh since early last year, including bloggers, gay rights activists, Christians and Hindus. Islamic State extremists have claimed responsibility for more than 20 of the killings.

In the past week, IS militants have claimed responsibility for the deaths of a Hindu monastery worker, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian merchant. All three were hacked to death. The Muslim wife of a key counterterrorism official was also stabbed and shot dead.

Despite IS claims, Bangladesh authorities continue to insist there are no foreign terror groups operating in the country. Instead, they blame home-grown militants - and in some cases the political opposition - for the violence.