Bangladesh police foil attempt to kill 'atheist' Dhaka school teacher

(Photo: REUTERS / Andrew Biraj)An overcrowded passenger boat navigates through Buriganga River as a man watches from a bridge in Dhaka July 27, 2014. Millions of residents in Dhaka have started the exodus home from the capital city ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Authorities in Bangladesh stopped suspected Islamic militants from killing an "atheist" school teacher in Dhaka, as alarm over a banned group said to be reorganizing was steadily rising.

Police officers shot at militants from Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) who were approaching the teacher's house but were stopped, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Our patrol team stopped the car for routine check, but the three men got out and opened fire at us. Officers were forced to retaliate by firing live rounds," said Atiqur Rahman, a local police chief in Dhaka on October 16.

Rahman said police had taken into custody one militant who yielded two syringes filled with poisonous liquid and a pistol. Two other militants managed to escape, the official continued.

"We thought they were a group of muggers, but during interrogation (militant) Rubel admitted they were heading to murder a teacher at a school for what they said were his atheist views," Rahman said.

Investigators said the teacher, whom it did not identify citing security concerns, purportedly held anti-Islamic views as he reportedly forced a colleague to shave off his beard.

The teacher likewise converted a prayer space into a classroom, probers continued.

The Bangladeshi government had launched a major offensive against the JMB, during a crackdown on the group started in 2006. More than 1,000 members underwent prosecution, and a year later, six of its top leaders were ordered hanged.

The group has since become inactive, but signs point to evidence the organization has slowly been reactivated.

Several high-profile JMB members had been arrested by authorities, and they believe the group secured funding from overseas.

In February, unidentified attackers staged an ambush on a prison van, taking with them three convicted JMB militants as they killed a police officer there.

The JMB had a hand in the series of bombings on judges and courts judged as un-Islamic in 2005 which saw 28 people dead in different incidents.

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