Dhaka – The sounds of ceaseless gunshots and explosions have created panic among most residents as army commandos continue raid a suspected militants’ den in north-eastern Bangladeshi city of Sylhet, witnesses and officials said Saturday.
The commandos intensified the operation on the second day as they evacuated the civilians living in the five-storey Atia Mahal building in Shibbari of the north-eastern town, located nearly 200 kilometers away from the capital Dhaka.
Meanwhile, six people including two policemen were killed after unidentified assailants exploded two bombs near the militants’ dean. More than 40 people were injured in the attack that carried out amid the operation.
Police cordoned off the five-storey building since March 24 morning and the army commandos were called in after the suspected militants turned down the call by police to surrender.
Sporadic gunshots were being heard piercing through the area since morning of the second day of commando operation, said a witness.
The authorities have banned all sorts of rallies and procession in the city while the area around the den was cleared to avert further civilian casualties.
City police chief Golam Kibria said an investigation was launched as it was not yet clear who detonated the bombs on Friday. A motorbike and explosives were seized at the scene.
US-based monitoring group SITE Intelligence reported that Islamic State militants group claimed the responsibility for the latest Bangladesh attack.
“The Islamic State’s (IS) ‘Amaq News Agency reported that the group is responsible for a bombing on Bangladeshi forces in Sylhet,” reported the monitoring group.
Police had kept the residential building in the north-eastern city cordoned off since Friday, when they were informed that suspected militants belonging to a banned Islamist group were present there.
The commandos evacuated 78 people from the five-storey building before they began the raid, Brigadier General Fakhrul Ahsan said.
“We have not been able to determine the number of militants yet, but all the civilians were safely evacuated,” he told reporters, projecting that the operation would likely to end on Sunday.
Ustar Mia, owner of the building, told reporters that he rented the flat to a couple in January. The man identified himself as Kawsar working for a private company while the female identified her as Morjina Begum.