Opposition not responsible for violence in Bangladesh: US

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Themorningbellbd.com desk, April 30: The United States is disagreed with the Bangladeshi government’s assessment that opposition parties are responsible for the acts of violence, a top American diplomat has said, reports Press Trust of India (PTI).

“Now the government has sometimes claimed that these attacks were actually the work of the opposition in one fashion or another, but what we’ve seen based on the evidence to date is in fact that extremist groups whether they are indigenous or whether they really are affiliated with ISIL or DAESH are responsible,” US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told US lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Friday.

“They (Bangladesh) clearly deserve more attention than they often have received either by this administration or a whole range of things but first of all, as we all know, an election was held a while back and Sheikh Hasina of course was re-elected,” he said during a hearing on Asia organised by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Khaleda Zia and her party boycotted the election and so the political situation is a bit iffy there, but let me ask you this Bangladesh has long been considered a moderate Muslim country in resisting Islamic radicalism,” he said.

“We’ve seen a series of attacks, terrorist attacks, in Bangladesh over the last several months which DAESH or Al-Qaeda have taken credit for,” Blinken said.

“This gives us concern about the potential for ISIL, for DAESH, to take root in Bangladesh, which has been an important country in terms of having a Muslim country with a moderate orientation that can be an important player in dealing with the problem of violent extremism,” he said.

Blinken said the US is working with India on countering violent extremism in Bangladesh, and linked recent spate of attacks on secular bloggers and minorities to the rise of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Muslim-majority country.

“We have been both engaging with the government on this problem but also for example with India, given the relationship between India and Bangladesh to raise the concern and to try to work together with them on countering violent extremism before it takes root in Bangladesh,” he said.

The top American diplomat was responding to a question from Congressman Steve Chabot on the recent killing of secular bloggers in Bangladesh.

There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.

Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were killed with machetes, one inside his own home.

A Hindu head priest was on February 21 hacked to death by gun-and-cleaver wielding Islamists. In September last, Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was murdered by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, and within five days of that incident Japanese farmer Kunio Hoshi was killed.

Also, moderate Sufi saint Khizir Khan, progressive book publisher Faisal Arefin Dipon, and a Sufi shrine worker were murdered while two Christian pastors, one an Italian doctor, narrowly escaped attacks.

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