Dhaka: Bangladesh police shot dead an Islamist leader suspected in a series of recent killings targeting foreigners and religious minorities, an official said Wednesday.
Nazrul Islam, 28, was killed Tuesday in a shootout with police, who said he had been involved in at least 11 murders and two other attempts and was a senior leader of the banned Islamist group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
Dhaka police described Islam, also known as Bike Hasan, as a "top JMB terrorist" and said they recovered a pistol and bullets from the site of the gunfight.
Bangladesh blames the JMB for a recent wave of Islamist-inspired killings that have raised fears for the safety of religious minorities in the country.
"He was shot dead during a gunfight at Mahendra Crossing in Rajshahi city early Tuesday morning when we raided the area. Later we learned that the person killed in the raid was the notorious Bike Hasan," the city's police commissioner Shafiqul Islam told AFP.
The 28-year-old earned the nickname for his skills on the motorbikes that the men behind the wave of killings have frequently used to make a quick getaway, Islam said.
"It's a major success in our ongoing drive against extremists," he added.
Police suspect Nazrul Islam of involvement in the murder of at least five Hindu men as well as a Japanese farmer shot dead in northern Bangladesh last year.
He is also accused in the killings of a liberal university professor, a leader of the minority Sufi faith and a Christian grocer.
Bangladesh authorities are under pressure to crack down on extremism in the world's third largest Muslim-majority nation after a recent increase in gruesome attacks.
Five gunmen stormed an upscale cafe in the capital on July 1, killing 20 mainly foreign hostages and two police officers in Bangladesh's deadliest single militant attack of recent years.
Police said the five were members of a new faction of JMB led by a Canadian of Bangladeshi origin and whose members, many drawn from rich families, had vowed allegiance to the Islamic State organisation.
The IS has said the five cafe gunmen were its soldiers. It released photos of the carnage and the attackers posing with their black flags hours before commandoes ended the siege.
The IS also claimed responsibilities for most of the 11 murders Nazrul Islam was accused of. Police reject that claim and say the group has no presence in the country....