Four from ISIS-linked Bangladesh group killed

Bangladesh police detaining a couple for suspected terror links yesterday. Four militants from the New JMB group were killed in a shootout during an earlier police raid.
Bangladesh police detaining a couple for suspected terror links yesterday. Four militants from the New JMB group were killed in a shootout during an earlier police raid.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Terror unit said to be involved in attack on Dhaka cafe last July

DHAKA • Four suspected militants, including a woman, from a group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), were killed yesterday when Bangladesh police raided their hideout in the south-east, a senior police official said.

Police said they were members of a faction of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh group, known as New JMB, which they believe was linked to an attack on a cafe in the capital, Dhaka, last July that killed 22 people, most of whom were foreigners. New JMB has pledged allegiance to ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the attack on the cafe in the city's diplomatic quarter, although the government has cast doubt on that claim.

Two policemen were wounded when the militants inside a two-storey building in Chittagong, about 200km south-east of Dhaka, attacked them with at least a dozen grenades, police official Mohammad Moniruzzaman told Reuters.

It was not clear whether the militants were killed in a shootout with police or had detonated suicide vests they were wearing, he said. "The operation is over. Our intelligence and bomb-disposal units are now working."

The raid on the building began on Wednesday night and 20 members of seven families trapped inside were taken to safety before the final assault began early yesterday, Mr Moniruzzaman said.

Live bombs were found inside the building, he added.

Two New JMB members were arrested following the raid on the building, according to police additional superintendent Mosiuddowla Reza. One tried to blow herself up before she was taken into custody, he told AFP. "We arrested them as the wife was holding her three-month-old child in one hand and trying to explode the suicide vest with the other.

"Our bomb-disposal unit later defused the vest."

Bangladesh has been hit by a spate of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in the past few years.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS have made competing claims over the attacks in the mostly Muslim country of 160 million people, but the government has consistently denied the presence of any such transnational militant organisations in Bangladesh.

The authorities instead blame the violence on domestic militants, although security experts say the scale and sophistication of the cafe attack suggested links to a transnational network.

Police have killed more than 50 suspected militants in shootouts since the cafe attack, including the man they say was its main planner, Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Four from ISIS-linked Bangladesh group killed'. Print Edition | Subscribe