Since the start of the year, nearly 20 people have been killed, chosen indiscriminately: Hindus, Christians, Muslims, ordinary people. A police inspector has admitted that two Islamist groups are present in the country, but the government has not yet confirmed. Catholics live under police protection. Terrorism is likely home-grown.
"Since the beginning of the year, almost 20 people have been killed,” a Catholic source, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews. “No one is targeted in particular; however, extremists seem to want to destabilise the country.”
What worries the source the most “is the lack of logical pattern in these attacks, which is forcing everyone to take extra care."
Despite the government’s round up of suspected terrorists this week, with more than 5,000 people arrested, "tensions remains high. The only certain information from the authorities is that we will have to contend with violence for a long time."
The country’s streets are under tight control. "Police have set up checkpoints everywhere and are checking everyone". For months, in the north-west of the country foreign people have been under police protection, their movements monitored by security guards.
The rise of a lethal but unorganised insurgency "has destabilised the authorities, who did not expect such a development and are not yet sure how much time it will take to restore order."
The government continues to “deny the presence of terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State (IS) group,” the source said, “but last week Chittagong police inspector general admitted for the first time the presence of two groups, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Anser al-Islam. The government though has not yet made any official admission."
The authorities have targeted these two and other banned groups, with large-scale deployment of security forces. However, the opposition has slammed the government, complaining that it is engaged in some form of “political cleansing.
"Those who died were all chosen without precise goals. The only thing certain is that someone wants to bring chaos to the country. We do not know whether it is international terrorism. Indeed, many believe the extremists to be local.”