“He Hid Inside Locker”: Bangladesh Arrests Kuki-Chin National Front Leader

Cheosim Bom, a key member of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), was arrested

Dhaka:

Bangladesh’s security agencies on Sunday arrested a senior commander of a tribal insurgent group believed to have links with an Islamist terrorist organisation, days after the outfit looted state-owned banks and abducted a bank manager in the southeastern hills, officials said.

The elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which draws personnel from the army, navy, and air force alongside police, said that they arrested Cheosim Bom, a key organiser and coordinator of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF).

“We found him hiding inside a locked locker during the raid at his home on the outskirts of the (Bandarban) town,” RAB’s region commander Lieutenant Colonel HM Sajjad told reporters in Bandarban.

He described Cheosim Bom as Bandarban-based KNF’s top coordinator and a close aide to its chief fugitive Nathan Bom, a fine arts graduate from Dhaka University.

The development coincides with Bangladesh Army Chief General Shafiuddin Ahmed’s visit to Bandarban where he said a military-led clampdown against the KNF has started to eliminate the outfit.

He said some KNF members were arrested and weapons were recovered from them.

“After being cornered last June, they (KNF) appeared willing to negotiate. Unfortunately, their commitment to peace was superficial, as evidenced by their continued involvement in criminal acts,” the army chief said.

Bandarban’s autonomous hill district council chief Kya Shai Hla last year took the initiative to convince KNF members to return to normal life under a peace negotiation.

But the process was derailed as the outfit last week carried out two attacks on three branches of state-run banks, looted weapons from security guards of the banks, and kidnapped a bank manager.

According to reports, the manager was released after three days through mediation, but the KNF’s latest act prompted the tribal district council chief to suspend the peace talks.

KNF members last year killed three soldiers and wounded a few others in Bandarban during a security clampdown.

Security officials have said the KNF emerged as an armed group mostly comprising people from the Christian-majority Bom tribe.

They said the outfit earlier allied with a newly formed Islamist militant group called Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, which took refuge in the hills.

The officials said KNF offered armed training to the Islamist group members in exchange for money.

Bangladesh had seen the end of a nearly two-decade-long hill insurgency in 1997 with the signing of a peace agreement between the government and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) or JSS, which had been demanding regional autonomy.

The Bom tribe had little involvement during the JSS armed campaign.

SOURCE

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