Top 5 Stories to know today

Top leaders of the ruling Awami League yesterday called upon the BNP to participate in the next general election. "Let's compete in the polls. We don't want to score in an empty field. There will be a game in the election," said General Secretary Obaidul Quader. And here's everything else you need to know today. 

Electricity prices raised at retail and wholesale levels

Electricity prices are set to rise again in a span of 19 days: retail by 5 percent and wholesale by 8 percent. The government raised the price bypassing the public hearing of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission. The hiked prices will come into effect tomorrow, February 1. 

Rab claims Jama'atul Ansar posed "biggest militant threat" 

According to law enforcers, Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya posed a bigger security threat than any militant outfit ever did. Documents during raids on Bandarban hills showed the militants followed the code of conduct of global terror organisations Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Their plan was to establish a caliphate in Bangladesh through armed struggle and, if necessary, carry out attacks on key installations and important personalities, Rab officers said. 

Jama'atul Ansar has 55 members trained in the use of firearms that include assault rifles. Their original plan was to expand to a team of 313 trained members, and funding was not an issue since they had funding from foreign and local sources. Read more 

IMF approves $4.5b loan for Bangladesh

Yesterday, the IMF approved the much-talked about $4.5b loan for Bangladesh. "This loan approval proves that our economy is standing on a solid foundation and our fundamentals are better than many other countries," said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. The first instalment of $447.8 million would come in February, followed by six equal installments of $659.18 million.

The government has already started implementing some of the reforms agreed upon, such as raising the fuel and power prices while the central bank is aiming to move towards a market-based, flexible and unified exchange rate regime by the end of this fiscal year. The IMF staff mission also insisted on reporting on gross reserves as per the lender's balance of payments and investment position manual (BPM6), which is followed faithfully by central banks around the world. But Bangladesh's central bank is yet to adopt it.

Pakistan mosque bombing death toll rising 

A deadly blast caused by suicide bombing through a mosque in Peshawar on Monday has killed at least 87 people, while 57 are injured in critical condition. 

The bomber blew himself up shortly after hundreds of worshippers lined up to say their afternoon prayer in the tightly guarded police headquarters area. This has raised speculations of whether the attack was coordinated by the Pakistan Taliban who have been directly targeting police in a string of attacks. In December, Islamist militants from the group attacked a police station, leading to the death of 33 militants. 

But a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has denied any involvement in the attack.

Metro rail transported 3.35 lakh commuters since opening

The country's first metro rail has transported 3.35 lakh passengers till yesterday. Metro rail authorities earned Tk 2.46 crore during this time, MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd told reporters today. On the other hand, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has arranged free metro rail rides for 700 children.

The maiden journey of metro rail was completed on December 28, when the train carrying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and 200 others reached Agargaon from Uttara North.