A woman and a teenage boy blew themselves up as police raided a suspected militant hideout in Dhaka in what appears to be the first successful female suicide attack in Bangladesh, officials said at the scene on Saturday.
Four people, two women and two children surrendered to police while a third child was injured at a three-story building in Dhaka’s Ashkona neighborhood.
“One female militant died as she detonated her suicidal vest and a child was seriously injured in the blast,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters at the police operation scene in Ashkona near the Shahjalal International Airport.
He said the injured girl who was being treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, was the daughter of a militant identified as Iqbal.
Sanowar Hossain, additional deputy commissioner of police at the counter-terrorism and organized crimes unit, said he led a raid of the house after police received a tip off that some militants were hiding there. He said the police encircled the house early Saturday.
“At around 9.30 a.m. two women accompanied by two girls surrendered to the police,” Hossain said.
He said they were slain JMB commander Maj. Zahidul Islam’s widow Jebunnahar Sheela and her daughter, and militant leader Musa’s wife Trisha and her daughter. They were being interrogated by police on Saturday.
“We repeatedly asked the rest of the militants to surrender. At around 12:30 p.m., a veiled woman militant holding the hand of a girl came out of the building. Holding the girl up, she detonated the suicidal vest. She died immediately and injured the girl,” Hossain said.
“Our main target was Musa, who had rented the flat. He somehow managed to flee the scene,” Kamal said, according to media reports.
Neo-JMB, a faction of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh that subscribes to Islamic State (IS) ideology, has been blamed for the terrorist attack that left 29 dead, including 20 hostages, at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka in July.
Standoff lasts hours
Police, who had cordoned off the building early Saturday, ended the operation about 3:45 p.m.
“There are still a lot of grenades and explosives as well as live bombs inside. The bomb disposal unit is taking care of those,” Kamal told reporters.
Officers were acting on a tip that Neo-JMB members were hiding in the building. The boy blew himself up after firing on police who had appealed to him to surrender.
“He also died to avoid arrest. Some on duty police were also injured,” Kamal told BenarNews.
Inspector General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Haque identified the teen as Afif Quadri, son of militant Tanvir Quadri who was slain in a police raid in Aziumpur neighborhood in Dhaka.
Bangladeshi authorities have been cracking down on Neo-JMB members since the July café attack. In October, authorities reported that 12 suspected militants were killed in four separate raids in one day by counter-terrorist police and Rapid Action Battalion units. Officials said those killed in the raids included the leader of Neo-JMB’s military wing and a top financier.