Bangladesh police reported finding the remains of seven people inside a building on Wednesday, a day after a series of explosions and a fire ripped through the hideout occupied by a top Islamic extremist in Dhaka’s Mirpur area.
Members of Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided the building early Tuesday after receiving a tip that a Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) member identified as Abdullah and others were inside.
“I guess those dead bodies include Abdullah, his two wives, Nasrin and Fatema, two sons, Omar and Osama, ages 3 and 9, and two anonymous employees,” RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed told reporters on Wednesday.
“Human body parts are scattered throughout Abdullah’s house, we are predicting seven dead bodies based on seven skulls that we found there.”
RAB media officer Maj. Mizan Mehdi said police cordoned off the building around 1 a.m. Tuesday. Electricity and gas were disconnected and 65 residents living in 23 apartments in the building were moved to safety.
Throughout the day, RAB officers contacted Abdullah to convince him to surrender. During an afternoon briefing, officials said he had agreed to leave the building later that day.
Hours after the time for his surrender passed, gunfire and four explosions from inside the building shook the neighborhood, followed by a fire.
“It seems they have died because of last night’s explosions,” RAB official Mufti Mahmud Khan told BenarNews. “We could manage to finish searching only one room and found three bodies there. As those bodies are badly burned, we could not identify whether they are men or women.”
Flames rise from a Dhaka building following a series of explosions inside a suspected militant den, Sept. 5, 2017. (Newsroom Photo)
Khan told Bangladesh media that DNA samples were collected to identify the victims.
New JMB faction
Benazir told reporters Abdullah, who police linked to terrorist activities since 2005, belonged to a new JMB faction called the Sarwar-Tamim group.
“Before breaking from the Sarwar-Tamim group, a senior leader I don’t want to name told us about Abdullah after we arrested him,” Benazir said.
Neighbors told BenarNews that Abdullah had lived in the apartment for about 15 years.
“We knew this person as Titu. He used to sit in tea stalls, though he used to always avoid political discussions,” said a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous. “But we did not realize that he is involved with terrorism.”
RAB officers along with Bangladesh police and military conducted a series of raids earlier this year that resulted in the deaths of militants and police officers alike.
In March, three police officers were killed in the northeastern Sylhet district when two bombs were set off in a crowd of police and onlookers as officers raided a militant den. Among those killed was the chief of RAB’s intelligence wing who suffered a head injury in the bombings.