NEW DELHI (AP) — More than 100,000 students in Bangladesh linked their hands Monday to form human chains to protest two attacks last month by suspected Islamist militants.
The students from hundreds of colleges and universities in Dhaka and other cities took part in the protest as part of a campaign to create awareness about the rise of Islamic extremism in the country.
Protesters carried banners that read "Bangladesh stands against terrorism" and "We want peace; no place for terrorism."
The organizers said they particularly wanted students to lead Monday's protests because the suspects in last month's attacks were mostly students and young men.
"We stand against any sort of extreme form of ideology. We denounce terrorism," said Tanvir Shakil Joy, one of the organizers. "I feel encouraged to see that so many students, both male and female, have joined the protest today."
Joy, a former ruling party lawmaker, said the students gathered at about 50 locations in Dhaka, and similar protests were held in all district headquarters and major cities.
A signature campaign against extremism was also launched at all educational institutions, he said by telephone.
Suspected Islamist militants killed 20 people, including 17 foreigners, in an attack on a popular restaurant in Dhaka a month ago. That was followed by an attack on an Eid congregation in central Bangladesh that left three people dead.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Bangladesh authorities blamed the banned group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh.
In a police raid last week, nine other suspected militants, mostly young men, were killed in Dhaka.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to fight extremism and urged citizens to build awareness about its dangers.
Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people, is a parliamentary democracy based on British common law. Many local Islamist groups want to introduce Islamic Shariah law.