Bangladeshi police said they planned to resume a raid on a suspected militant den early Thursday in northwestern Chapai Nawabganj district, despite concerns that two children could be inside the one-story house.
Officials said police came under gunfire and grenade attacks from inside the house as they encircled it Wednesday during an operation code-named Eagle Hunt. Acting on a tip, members of the police’s counter terrorist special branch surrounded the house in the village of Shibganj-Trimohoni, about 316 km (196 miles) from the capital Dhaka.
“We have been conducting the operation based on specific information,” Abdul Mannan, an additional deputy commissioner of the counter terrorism unit, told BenarNews.
“Bombs were hurled as soon as the police encircled the house at dawn Wednesday,” he said.
A militant, his wife and their two children could be inside the house, police and neighbors said. Special weapons and tactics (SWAT) members and the counter-terrorist unit began Eagle Hunt to free the children around 5 p.m. Wednesday but suspended actions about four hours later.
“We will not carry on the operation tonight. We will restart the operation at the light of dawn tomorrow,” Proloy Kumar Joarder, a counter terrorism and transnational crimes unit officer told reporters shortly after the operation ended. His statement was aired live by some television stations.
“We think they are the members of the old faction of the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh,” he said, referring to a banned militant group also known as JMB.
Joarder said police wanted to wait until daylight to resume the raid because of concerns about the children.
Onlookers have been banned from gathering near the site over safety concerns.
“We could not believe that a militant den is here; [gun]fire is coming from this house,” Abdul Alim, an elected member of the Mobarakpur union council, told BenarNews. “Ours is a peaceful area. People are in panic over what could happen.”
In March, at least 30 people including 18 suspects, three law enforcers and five children, were killed in a series of bombings, grenade attacks and other violence as Bangladeshi security forces launched counter-terrorism raids nationwide.
In one instance seven people – three police and four others – were killed when a pair of bombs exploded amid a crowd of onlookers as police conducted a raid on a militant den in Sylhet district.