Dhaka – At least four suspected Islamist militants have been killed as security forces busted their den in eastern Bangladeshi district of Chittagong, police said on Thursday.
Police could not determine identity of the suspects immediately, but they believe the militants were member of a faction of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, an Islamist outfit blamed for series of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh.
The police found the bodies of four suspected militants, including one woman, inside the two-storey building after the raid was ended in in Sitakundu town of Chittagong in the morning, he said. Police responded the suspects with bullets as they threw grenades on them.
The scene is located nearly 200 kilometers southeast of the capital Dhaka.
Police kept the home, a part of which was rented by the militants, cordoned off overnight and rescued the inmates of the other apartments before they finally go for “Operation Assault Sixteen” in the morning. The operation lasted for less than one hour.
Deputy Inspector General of Police in Chittagong Shafiqul Islam told reporters that two of the suspects killed themselves exploding suicide vests when the lawmen entered their hideout hours after exchange of gunshots.
The militants were linked to a faction of the banned Islamist group, Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, the officer said.
The group is blamed for the last year’s café attack in Dhaka’s diplomatic area that killed 20 civilians, mostly foreigners.
Police with the help of members of Special Weapon and Tactic Team carried out the operation following information, obtained from a couple arrested on Wednesday in the town, that the Islamist group amassed grenades and explosives to carry out acts of sabotage in the area.
The DIG said the couple was still being interrogated. But they hardly pass any information related to the Islamic group’s organization in Bangladesh.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh witnessed a wave of attacks by Islamist militants on secularist bloggers, academics, rights activists, priests, people from the minority faiths and foreign nationals in 2015 and 2016.
In the deadliest café attack on July 1, 2016, terrorists killed nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian, a Bangladeshi-born US citizen and two Bangladeshi nationals.
Five militants, a chef believed to be an associate of the attackers and two policemen were killed when army commandos stormed the cafe the following morning.
The Islamic State militant group claimed the attack, but the Bangladeshi government has insisted it was carried out by home-grown terrorists.
Police have killed more than 45 suspected militants, including a Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi-origin, in the last eight months as part of counterterrorism raids launched in response to the cafe attack. More than 100 suspected militants were arrested during this period.