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Bangladesh arrests extremists over plot to kill filmmaker

Ansarullah Bangla Team have been blamed for a series of murders of secular activists, writers and homosexuals since 2013
Ansarullah Bangla Team have been blamed for a series of murders of secular activists, writers and homosexuals since 2013 AFP/File
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Dhaka (AFP)

Two alleged Islamist extremists accused of plotting to kill a prominent Bangladesh actor and filmmaker have been arrested, police said Tuesday.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police said the pair belonged to homegrown militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team, blamed for a series of murders of secular activists, writers and homosexuals since 2013.

"Primary interrogations revealed the arrested persons are active Ansarullah Bangla Team members who plotted to kill film maker Khijir Hayat Khan," police said in a statement.

One of the accused, a 20-year-old, was accused of staking out Khan's home as they plotted the murder.

Police said they targeted the high-profile celebrity because he co-wrote the screenplay "Mr Bangladesh", a film about thwarting terrorists that hit cinemas last month.

Ansarullah Bangla Team is a banned extremist outfit which first grabbed headlines in February 2013, when its members killed an atheist activist.

It is also known as Ansar al-Islam and has alleged ties with Al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS). The latter has claimed some of the murders allegedly carried out by Ansarullah.

Police have arrested dozens of its members, including its spiritual leadership, in a crackdown on local extremists after an attack on a Dhaka cafe in 2016 left 22 people dead, including 18 foreigners.

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