Bangladesh's drift towards extremism feared

Bangladesh's drift towards extremism feared

DHAKA (APP): Doctors, engineers and university students are among 261 people officially missing in Bangladesh, with some feared recruited by Islamic militant groups, as the country reels from a wave of deadly attacks.

More than two weeks after Islamists killed 20 foreign hostages in a siege at a cafe in Dhaka, police published a list overnight Tuesday of those missing and urged information on their whereabouts.

"We have to find them," elite Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan told, without saying how many were suspected to have joined extremist groups at home and abroad.

Bangladesh was spurred into launching a nationwide hunt for people reported missing by their families in recent times, following the July 1 siege claimed by Islamic State group (IS).

Police and parents said the five who stormed the Western-style cafe and hacked the hostages to death had gone missing months earlier. At least two gunmen who carried out a deadly attack days later at a massive Eid prayer service had also previously disappeared.

As the list was published on Facebook, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated her secular government's determination to "root out the scourge of militancy".

Hasina, who has long denied IS and Al-Qaeda have a foothold in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, urged villages to form committees to gather information on those missing.