Bangladeshi Authorities Kill 9 Suspected Militants in Dhaka Raid

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Dhaka
2016-07-26
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160726-BD-suspects-620.jpg Bangladeshi police stand guard near an apartment building in Dhaka where officers killed nine suspected militants who were allegedly planning a terrorist attack, July 26, 2016.
AFP

Bangladeshi officials said police stopped a large-scale terrorist plot from unfolding by killing nine suspected militants during a raid on their apartment hideaway in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Eleven suspected members of the banned militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) opened fire on and threw grenades at police as officers moved in on their den in a six-story apartment building in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur neighborhood, officials said.

Officers shot dead nine of the suspects and arrested one of them, but another man got away, police said.

The operation prevented an attack on the scale of the July 1 terrorist siege at an upscale café in Dhaka’s Gulshan neighborhood, during which 20 hostages and two police officers were killed, officials said.

“Prompt action saved the country from a catastrophe,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Tuesday through her press secretary.

During a meeting in Dhaka with district administrative chiefs, Hasina also reiterated that her government had to eliminate terrorism from Bangladesh. She instructed the chiefs to work to wipe out the threat at the grassroots level, her press secretary said.

The 11 suspected JMB members had been renting the apartment since June 20, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Md. Asaduzzaman Mia told a news conference after the raid.

“All of the nine [slain] militants wore black overalls and special turbans. Some of them carried backpacks. Most of them put on sports shoes. We think they were planning to carry out a terrorist attack like the Gulshan cafe attack,” Mia told reporters at the DMP’s media center.

Inspector General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque spoke to reporters separately after inspecting the apartment.

“We suspect that they were JMB members. These militants and the Gulshan cafe attackers belonged to the same group. They claim to be IS members, but we have not found any IS links with them,” he said.

However, police said, two Islamic State (IS) flags were recovered from the apartment.

Tip led to operation

Acting on a tip, officers including from the detective branch, counter-terrorism and transnational crime units, SWAT, and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) force encircled the building at around 12:30 a.m. Just before 7 a.m., police proceeded to the upper floors, Mia said.

“Chanting Allahu Akbar, two militants exploded hand grenades and jumped onto a nearby tin-roof from the fifth floor of the building. Police captured one militant alive and the other fled,” said Mia, adding that the nine militants who were holed up in the apartment refused to surrender.

Police recovered hand guns, grenades, explosive gel, detonators and sharp weapons from the apartment, the commissioner said.

Mia identified the arrested suspect as Raqibul Hasan, 25, who was being treated and the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The slain militants were between 20 to 25 years old.

Hasan, a student of Shah Sultan College in Bogra district, had been missing for a year, his mother, Rokeya Aktar, told reporters.

Since it was revealed that most of the young men who carried out the attack at the café in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter had been missing from their families for months and were members of Bangladesh’s elite, Bangladeshi authorities have circulated a list of 261 other missing people, including some who are feared to have joined militant groups.

While the police inspector-general blamed JMB members for the July 1 Gulshan cafe attack that left 29 dead, IS’s official news agency, Amaq, claimed that that IS was responsible for it.

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