Bangladesh busts Rohingya Islamist arms cache
Troops busted a jungle hideout in southeast Bangladesh and seized weapons which they believed were stored by rebels from neighbouring Myanmar and could also be used by Islamist militants fighting for sharia law in Bangladesh.

Different groups of Myanmar rebels are fighting against the authorities of Yangon in west Myanmar's Arakan region, bordering Bangladesh, while two outlawed Islamist groups are seeking to turn Bangladesh, a mainly Muslim democracy, into an Islamic state.

"Two anti-tank missiles, a heavy machine gun, three sub-machine guns, five AK-47 rifles and 7,000 (rounds of) ammunition along with battle accessories were seized on Saturday," a senior security official said on Sunday.

Officials said militants who were at the hideout fled before the troops came in.

Troops seized huge caches of weapons and explosives several times over the past year from the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, believed brought from across the Myanmar frontier, but gave no official statement on who they were meant for.

Myanmar rebels cross into Bangladesh territory when being pursued by Yangon troops, and are often arrested by Bangladesh police.

Bangladesh has intensified a countrywide hunt for Islamic militants since Thursday after the country's top Islamist radical, Shayek Abdur Rahman, was captured in the northeastern town of Sylhet and later brought to Dhaka for interrogation.

Shayek led Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which along with another militant group Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, was banned in early 2005 for criminal activities.

The chief of the second group, Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai, is still at large and may take over the operations leadership of the militants in Shayek's absence, intelligence officials said.

These two groups were blamed for a countrywide wave of bomb attacks, including suicide bombings, which killed at least 30 people and wounded 150 since August 17, 2005.

"We have intensified watch on the borders with Myanmar and India to try to keep Bangla Bhai and other militants within our territory and catch them as soon as possible," said an officer with the Bangladesh Rifles border guards.
Posted by: Dan Darling 2006-03-05