2006.03.16: March 16, 2006: Headlines: COS - Bangladesh: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Bloomberg: Bangladesh Terrorist Threat Prompts U.S. Peace Corps to Leave

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bangladesh: Peace Corps Bangladesh : The Peace Corps in Bangladesh: 2006.03.15: March 15, 2006: Headlines: COS - Bangladesh: Safety and Security of Volunteers: BBC: The US Peace Corps has suspended its activities in Bangladesh indefinitely for fear that Americans may become the targets of Islamic militants : 2006.03.16: March 16, 2006: Headlines: COS - Bangladesh: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Bloomberg: Bangladesh Terrorist Threat Prompts U.S. Peace Corps to Leave

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-186-164.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 2:06 am: Edit Post

Bangladesh Terrorist Threat Prompts U.S. Peace Corps to Leave

Bangladesh Terrorist Threat Prompts U.S. Peace Corps to Leave

In August last year, more than 450 bombs exploded across Bangladesh in a 30-minute period, killing at least two people and injuring 125 others. Leaflets were found at the blast sites written by the group.

Bangladesh Terrorist Threat Prompts U.S. Peace Corps to Leave

Bangladesh Terrorist Threat Prompts U.S. Peace Corps to Leave

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Peace Corps suspended work in Bangladesh, citing a threat from terrorists retaliating for the capture of leaders of the Jama'atul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, the group blamed for the country's first suicide bombings.

The Peace Corps withdrew its 70 volunteers in Bangladesh who work on programs for improving education and youth development, Gaddi H. Vasquez, the organization's director, said in a statement yesterday from Washington.

The capture earlier this month of Shaykh Abdur Rahman, the suspected head of the JMB is a ``significant step'' in fighting terrorism, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka said in a statement. ``Ironically, one consequence of that success is concern over possible reprisal attacks against Americans.''

Bangladesh's government blamed Jama'atul Mujahedeen for three suicide bombings in November and December that killed at least 17 people. The group has called for the establishment of a state based on Islamic law in Bangladesh, a country of 144 million people where 83 percent of the population is Muslim and 16 percent Hindu.

Rahman and two accomplices surrendered on March 2 at a house in the northeastern city of Sylhet where they had were besieged by security forces.

The withdrawal by the Peace Corps is ``an ill-advised decision and there is no reason to do it,'' the British Broadcasting Corp. cited Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Hemayet Uddin as saying yesterday. The government has provided full security to non-Bangladeshis living in the country, he said.

Terrorist Targets

The JMB has identified the U.S. and U.K. governments ``as enemies of Islam,'' the U.S. State Department said in December. Bangladeshi non-government organizations, including several which receive funding from the U.S., received threats purportedly from the group, the department said at the time.

Safety and security of its volunteers remains the priority of the Peace Corps, Vasquez said. Security in Bangladesh will be ``periodically reviewed to determine whether to end or continue the suspension,'' the U.S. embassy said in its statement.

The Peace Corps was founded in 1961. Volunteers served in the 1960s in East Pakistan, before it declared independence from Pakistan in 1971 and became Bangladesh. The organization temporarily withdrew its workers from the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Ataur Rahman Sunny, the suspected military commander of the JMB, was arrested during a police raid on Dec. 14 in the capital, Dhaka. Police arrested about 800 suspects, many of them said to be members of Jama'atul Mujahedeen, after the suicide bombings.

In August last year, more than 450 bombs exploded across Bangladesh in a 30-minute period, killing at least two people and injuring 125 others. Leaflets were found at the blast sites written by the group.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Paul Tighe in Sydney at ptighe@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: March 15, 2006 18:31 EST

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