Bangladesh arrests 3 in police station blast, denies IS link

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi police said they arrested three suspects in the bombing of a Dhaka police station and denied a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group, saying the attackers were motivated by criminal intent.

Five people, including four police, were injured when a bomb hidden inside a weight machine-like object went off inside the Pallabi police station on Wednesday morning. The Islamic State group claimed credit for the blast in a statement the same day.

Three suspected hitmen were arrested Wednesday along with two loaded firearms and another weight machine-like object, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police Additional Commissioner Krishna Pada Roy.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime Saiful Islam denied any links between the Islamic State group and the blast.

“IS made this kind of false claim in the past, too. This is also part of that process,” he said. “As per the information available so far, criminal intentions were behind the blast and we’re investigating the incident.”

He also described as baseless claims made by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group’s founder Rita Katz.

Katz, in the tweet Wednesday, said the blast marked the first attack in Dhaka since last August and was part of a campaign in the lead-up to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The IS has claimed similar attacks on police in the past. Authorities do not publicly reveal the results of their investigations.

Bangladesh has a history of attacks by radical groups. It experienced a rise in Islamic militancy in recent years, with groups targeting atheist bloggers, publishers and writers, members of minority groups and foreigners.

On July 1, 2016, five militants took hostages and opened fire in a Dhaka cafe, killing more than 20 people, mostly foreigners. Seven members of a banned militant group were sentenced to death for the attack last year. The government had also rejected the IS claim of responsibility.

__ Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

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