Bangladesh security forces storm militant hideout, 3 dead

An ambulance carrying dead bodies of alleged militants in Moulvibazar, north-east of Dhaka. Security forces have been battling militants at multiple hideouts in north-eastern Bangladesh in recent days.
An ambulance carrying dead bodies of alleged militants in Moulvibazar, north-east of Dhaka. Security forces have been battling militants at multiple hideouts in north-eastern Bangladesh in recent days.PHOTO: REUTERS

Police target new wing of extremist group, unsure if casualties blew themselves up

DHAKA • Three people, including a woman, were killed when Bangladesh security forces attacked a militant hideout yesterday, police said.

The Muslim-majority nation has been fighting to contain a wave of terrorist attacks.

The incident was the latest battle against militants in recent days, which have involved hostage-taking, deadly explosions and gunfights at multiple hideouts in several locations in north-eastern areas of the country.

Yesterday's assault saw a team of officers enter a duplex in Moulvibazar town that they had surrounded since last Wednesday, pitting police against what they believe to be a new militant faction.

The head of the counter-terrorism unit, Deputy Inspector General Monirul Islam, told reporters it was not clear if the people that officers discovered dead inside had succumbed to police fire, or if they had blown themselves up.

Police said those inside were from a new wing of an extremist group that the government has blamed for a wave of deadly attacks targeting foreigners and religious minorities in recent years, including an attack last year on a Dhaka cafe where 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed by armed terrorists.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group has taken credit for the bomb attacks but the government has rejected the claim and blamed the banned homegrown Islamist organisation Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

Eight people, including women, were found dead after a police raid earlier last week in a nearby house, owned by the same person as the duplex in yesterday's incident - a British citizen of Bangladesh origin.

Two weeks ago, army commandos stormed a five-storey building in the nearby city of Sylhet to free dozens of hostages, triggering a violent three-day standoff.

At least four militants died and another six people, including two police officers, were killed when two bombs went off near a crowd watching the operation.

One of the explosions fatally injured Lieutenant Colonel Abul Kalam Azad, intelligence chief of Rapid Action Battalion - the elite force which has been at the forefront of the fight against militants - dealing a big blow to the security forces.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 02, 2017, with the headline 'Bangladesh security forces storm militant hideout, 3 dead'. Print Edition | Subscribe