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Police: ‘Important Breakthrough’ Arrest Made in Bangladesh

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

An Islamist militant who is suspected of attacking a publisher last year was arrested late Wednesday, in what police described as an important breakthrough in their investigation into the recurrent horrific attacks plaguing Bangladesh.

Sumon Hossain Patwari, 20, is accused of being involved with a brutal attack on publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul and two writers who were shot and stabbed by three men in the office of the Shudhdhoswar publishing house in Dhaka last October.

Police say Patwari is a member of the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a banned Bangladesh militant outfit.

"He admitted he himself hacked publisher Tutul three times during the attack," Monirul Islam, who leads the police's counter-terrorism unit, told reporters.

Islam said the arrest was an "important breakthrough" in taking down the leadership of the ABT.

Police have arrested thousands of people since Friday in a crackdown on the violence that has targeted over 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.

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