Dhaka : Left-wing extremists in Bangladesh have begun to target Islamist militants after being at the receiving end for over four years.
The killing of Arif Sheikh, 30, an Islamist militant, by three cadres of the Purba Bangla Communist Party (PBCP) signals an apparent change of political fortunes in Bangladesh.
Sheikh was a close associate of Siddiqul Islam, alias Bangla Bhai of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), a top Islamist militant being tried on a number of criminal charges.
Under pressure from the US and donor nations, the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is conducting a nationwide drive against the cadres of banned Islamist organizations.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of their involvement in the murder of Sheikh at Raninagar in Naogaon district Sunday night, the UNB news agency reported.
Quoting "informed sources", the news agency said cadres of underground PBCP have reappeared in the area and started taking revenge against the "highhandedness" of Bangla Bhai in April-May 2004.
Bangla Bhai in his crusade against PBCP had killed some 20 extremists in a campaign in Raninagar, Atrai and Bagmara at that time.
During his campaign, with tacit support of the administration, Bangla Bhai had set up camp in the home of Arif Sheikh in Banshbaria village. Arif was second-in-command of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), an offshoot of JMB, sources added.
Arif Sheikh was held by underground extremists at Talpukur on way to his home at Banshbaria. "The extremists shot and slaughtered him and proudly left towards Durgapur village chanting slogans of Purbo Banglar Communist Party, the report said quoting local villagers.
Police officer Jamil Ahmed leading a strong contingent in a nightlong drive arrested Mozam alias Majid (25), Raja alias Azahar (30) of Vatikai and Habib Mollah alias Taposh (35) of Rajapur village.