Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Bangladesh authorities said they arrested 37 suspected jihadists Saturday as part of a nationwide crackdown following a series of deadly attacks on minorities and secular activists.

Police sources said that this bring to more than 2,500 the number of suspected radicals detained after an anti-militant drive was launched across the Muslim-majority country Friday.

Police have also seized one weapon, explosives and ammunition, a senior police officer said.

The police crackdown is taking place as Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to catch "each and every killer."

A wave of killings in recent months stretched from the capital Dhaka to remote parts of the north and coastal south.

A Hindu monastery worker was stabbed to death in the northwestern district of Pabna Friday, and a U.S.-based monitoring service reported Saturday that Islamic State extremists have claimed responsibility.

In other attacks this week, the wife of an anti-terrorism officer was stabbed and shot, an elderly Hindu priest was found nearly decapitated in a rice field, and a Christian grocer was hacked to death near a church.

Islamic State or a South Asian branch of al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for most of the latest attacks.

Hundreds of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians protested on the streets of Dhaka Saturday against the recent murders of people of their faiths by suspected Islamist militants.

Gay-rights activists, liberal professors and secular bloggers have also been among the victims of the killings.

Three Islamist militants were reportedly killed in a clash with police in Dhaka Tuesday, as national forces began their crackdown.

Bangladesh authorities insist there are no foreign terror groups operating in the country. Instead, officials have blamed local militants or the political opposition for the wave of attacks.

Though officially a secular country, Bangladesh's population is around 90 percent Muslim.

VOA’s Bangla Service contributed to this report