Suspect in Bangladesh cafe attack kills himself in police raid

Bangladesh police's Rapid Action Battalion officers outside a Dhaka house, where suspected militants were living, in a raid on Saturday. Three women who tried to kill themselves were also nabbed.
Bangladesh police's Rapid Action Battalion officers outside a Dhaka house, where suspected militants were living, in a raid on Saturday. Three women who tried to kill themselves were also nabbed.PHOTO: REUTERS

DHAKA • A suspected militant believed by the Bangladesh police to have been among the planners of a July cafe attack that killed 22 people killed himself during a police raid on a hideout in the capital, police said yesterday.

The July attack in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter was claimed by terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and was one of the most brazen in Bangladesh, hit by a spate of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in the past year.

The government has pinned the blame on domestic militant groups, but security experts say the scale and sophistication of the incident suggest links to a transnational Islamic network.

National police chief Shahidul Hoque said the dead man, identified as Abdul Karim, was suspected to be one of the planners of the cafe attack, and to have rented a flat for the militants who carried it out.

"He killed himself inside the flat so that we can't collect information from him through interrogation," another official, Mr Sanwar Hossain, told reporters yesterday without elaborating.

Police, who had earlier said they shot the man during Saturday's raid on the hideout, gave no reason for the change in account.

Three women who were wounded and arrested in the raid also tried to kill themselves, Mr Hossain added.

Five officers from the counter-terrorism unit were wounded when female militants attacked them with chilli powder, explosives and knives, police have said.

One of the women could have been the wife of a man killed last week in a shootout with police.

He was believed to have trained the cafe attackers, police said.

Police have killed more than two dozen suspected militants in shootouts since the cafe attack, including its presumed mastermind, Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.

The United States believes elements of ISIS are "connected" to operatives in Bangladesh, US Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to Dhaka last month.

The targeting of foreigners - nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American and an Indian were among those killed - could hurt foreign investment in the economy, whose US$28 billion (S$38 billion) garments-export industry is the world's second largest.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on , with the headline 'Suspect in Bangladesh cafe attack kills himself in police raid'. Print Edition | Subscribe