Three members of a banned Bangladeshi Islamist group plotting to sabotage a major political rally organised by the ruling Awami League were arrested today in a predawn raid in northwestern city of Rajshahi ahead of Monday’s event.

The three were arrested by elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). They are members of banned Jamaatul Islam Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

"They (the three) admitted that they were preparing to sabotage a political rally coinciding with the anniversary of historic March 7 (1971) address of Bangladesh’s founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," a RAB spokesman said.

He said that the RAB troops arrested the three suspects and raided a village near Bagmara, the hometown of JMB’s founder Shaikh Abdur Rahman, who was executed nine years ago after trial on charges of murdering two judges during a massive anti-militancy campaign.

"We raided a house there as villagers reported presence of three unknown people with suspicious behavior," he said.

Bangladesh recalls Bangabandhu’s 7th March address in 1971 when he had made a clarion call asking Bengalis to prepare for independence from Pakistan while the country was liberated following a nine-month long Liberation War in the same year with crucial Indian support.

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