Bangladesh: Extremist coup foiled, says army

The Bangladeshi army has foiled a coup plotted by extremist Islamist military officers, officials said today.

The "heinous conspiracy" was discovered in December and two of the plotters have already been charged, local news site BDNews24 quoted Brigadier General Muhammed Masud Razzaq as telling a press conference.

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Those involved aimed to "topple the system of democratic governance through the army," Razzaq said, who described the men as holding "extreme religious views."

He also claimed they were acting "at the instigation of some non-resident Bangladeshis." Investigators have not ruled out that another country may have been involved, he said.

According to Razzaq, the plotters were in contact with a fugitive, Syed Mohammad Ziaul Huq, who is said to be linked to the Islamic Hizb ut-Tahrir party. Bangladesh outlawed the party in 2009 following a bomb attack on a ruling party member.

In total, between 14 and 16 "middle-level" officers were involved, Razzaq said. The two charged were both retired from active service.

A military court of inquiry has been established to charge the suspects.

According to BDNews24, "it is rare for the army in Bangladesh to hold a news conference, which lends gravity to the alleged plot."

Bangladesh has seen several coups and countercoups. Since he took over form a military-backed caretaker government in 2009, current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina faced threats from a number of radical groups, the BBC reported.

Soon after she took office, Bangladeshi paramilitary forces staged a revolt over pay that spread from the capital, Dhaka, to other cities, leading to more than 70 deaths.

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