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News analysis

Security agencies lack training to combat militancy

Global ramifications feared

By Special Correspondent
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Three people died of a terrorist attack just ahead of the Eid prayers at the entrance of Sholakia Edgah in Kishoreganj on Thursday.
That attack follows another outbreak of violence when six armed militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka's Diplomatic enclave holding a 12-hour siege that left 23 dead, including two police officers, in the worst terrorist attack in Bangladesh's history.
Later, army commandos were flown in from the country's northeast district Sylhet to take part in an operation to end the ordeal.  
These were only the latest in a series of deadly attacks over the past few years in the country, as Islamist militants here have been targeting bloggers, secular activists, foreigners, religious minorities and others.  
Since 2005, Bangladesh has reportedly been seen about 60 major attacks that claimed approximately 600 lives. And about 90 per cent of the attacks have occurred since 2013.
After the unprecedented terrorist attacks at the upmarket eatery in capital Dhaka and at the Sholakia Eidgah, security experts have raised question about the efficiency of the law enforcement agencies to deal with the growing threat of terrorism and militancy in Bangladesh. "The counter-terrorism in Bangladesh is failing as the law enforcers lack training, logistics, intelligence gathering, sophisticated technology and  coordination among law enforcement and intelligence agencies," Major General (Retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, a security expert, told The New Nation on Sunday.
"Poor political will of the government and politicization in recruitment in forces and posting are other reasons for the failure," he added.
He also observed that members of law enforcement agencies who received advance training and studied counter-terrorism abroad are not deployed for counter-terrorism units, squeezing their ability to fight against the militancy as well as evil forces.
Terming the Gulshan shooting as a 'potential threat' to state security, Gen Ibrahim said the brutal incident was happened due to intelligence failure.
"How the armed terrorists entered such a high security diplomatic enclave when the law enforcement agencies put on several road blockades and check posts at the key entry points of Gulshan and Baridhara. Obviously, it was their failure," he said.
"Bangladesh needs a 'comprehensive strategy' to combat militancy and to prevent future attacks," Major General (Retd) Md Abdur Rashid, another security expert told The New Nation yesterday.
He added: The government must focus on the strategy while reassessing counter-terrorism and intelligence ability of the law enforcement agencies.
"If it fails to act accordingly, more such attacks may take place in the days to come leaving a global ramification," feared Rashid.
He also urged the government to immediately form the "Police Bureau of Counter Terrorism" to deal with the growing threat of militancy.
Besides, a nationwide campaign to create public awareness against radicalism is a must to stop inciting youths in the paths of militancy.
Rashid said the government deals with the militancy cases like other regular criminal cases as fighting extremism is not on its priority list.
"The government must set topmost priority to deal such cases and it should formulate a separate law keeping provision of highest punishment for militancy," he added. 
Sources said RAB is well-equipped to deal with militancy and terrorism. It also makes regular arrests of suspected militants and criminals as a special counter-terrorism force.
But the elite force is not playing a proactive role to this effect due to its rivalry with another agency, they added.
"A breakthrough in the investigation of the repeated militant attacks could be made if the expertise and intelligence of RAB could be utilized", the sources said.

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