Suspected extremists killed in Bangladesh raid; ISIS claims blast

DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladeshi security forces raided a suspected Islamist extremist hideout in Dhaka on Monday (April 29) killing at least two militants, police said, as the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed to have wounded three police in a bombing.

Police commandos were met with gunfire on arriving at a house in the capital's Bosila neighbourhood after midnight on Monday, Lieutenant Colonel Ashique Billah told AFP.

This was followed by an explosion which demolished the walls of the house, the Rapid Action Battalion commander added.

Bangladesh launched a crackdown on Islamist extremism after attacks in July 2016, when ISIS-inspired militants stormed a Dhaka cafe killing 22 people, including 18 foreigners.

"Our bomb disposal unit found the body parts of two militants in the house. The explosion was so powerful that it tore apart the bodies and shook the whole area," Billah said.

Four other people were detained including a caretaker and imam from a nearby mosque, the officer added.

Separately, in their first claimed attack in Bangladesh in more than two years, ISIS jihadists said they "detonated an explosive device" on a group of police, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

According to the US-based group which monitors jihadist activity, the brief ISIS statement said the blast wounded three police on a road to Dhaka's Gulistan market.

In March 2017, ISIS had said it carried out explosions in the northeastern city of Sylhet.

Police said six people died in those blasts as commandos stormed an Islamist hideout. The government at the time rejected ISIS' claim and blamed a banned homegrown organisation.

Since the 2016 attacks, security forces have staged nationwide raids in which, they say, nearly 100 members of two extremist Islamist groups have been killed. Hundreds of suspects have been detained.

The South Asian nation has boosted security since April 21 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, which killed 253 and were carried out by jihadists affiliated to ISIS.