US national among extremists killed in Dhaka: police

Security officials stand guard in the streets close to the Taj Manzil Building after a police operation that left nine suspected militants dead.
Security officials stand guard in the streets close to the Taj Manzil Building after a police operation that left nine suspected militants dead. PHOTO: EPA

DHAKA (AFP) - A US national of Bangladesh origin was among nine suspected Islamist extremists killed in a massive gunfight in Dhaka, police said Wednesday.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masudur Rahman said that Shahzad Rouf was one of nine young men who were killed during Tuesday's early morning raid on a militant hideout.

"He was an American citizen," he said. "We confirmed his identity by checking finger prints."

He said six other extremists were also identified by police investigators by matching their finger prints with their national identity cards.

The nine were shot dead when hundreds of armed police stormed their den at a six-storey apartment building in Dhaka's Kalyanpur neighbourhood.

The extremists had claimed that they were members of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), with the officers recovering the group's black flags and robes from the hideout.

But the national police chief rejected the claim, asserting that the nine were members of banned homegrown militant outfit Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

 

Rouf was a business administration student at the North South University (NSU), Rahman said.

NSU, a top private university where well-off people send their children for higher education, has been a hotbed of Islamist extremism.

Two of its former students were among five Islamist extremists who took hostages at an upscale Dhaka cafe earlier this month and killed 22 people, including 18 foreigners.

Another of its students was shot dead in a northern Bangladesh town a week later when Islamists launched a major attack on the country's largest Eid prayer congregation, where some 250,000 people gathered.

Seven of its students were also convicted and jailed in December last year for the murder of an atheist blogger in early 2013, kickstarting a deadly campaign against secular activists and religious minorities.

Rouf's father, Touhid Rouf, that he saw the body, but was not sure whether it was that of his son.

"I am not 100 percent sure," he said. "I am confused. Maybe it is because the body had an autopsy and it was partly decomposed."

He confirmed that his son was an American passport holder and that he had been missing from home for the last six months.

Rouf had been named on a list of missing people prepared by the elite security force Rapid Action Battalion after authorities raised concerns that he might have fled the country and joined the ISIS group.