Bangladeshi security officials on Saturday killed 11 suspected militants of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in three separate raids as the country reinforced its counter-terrorism efforts.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the operations were carried out at Gazipur near the national capital, and in Tangail district.
Acting on a tip-off, teams of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police's counter-terrorism unit took part in the raids.
Kamal said the suspects were members of the outlawed JMB, blamed by the government for a spate of attacks across the country.
The raids took place at Patartek and Harinal areas of Gazipur and in Tangail district. Security officials recovered an AK-47, bullets, bomb-making materials and meat cleavers from a spot in Gazipur.
“Akash”, a new leader of the splinter group "Neo JMB" was among those killed in the raid at Patartek, Khan said. Officials said Akash became the leader of the Neo JMB after Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi-origin Canadian, was killed with two accomplices in a similar raid at Narayanganj district in August.
Officials said the militants were preparing to carry out attacks during the Durga Puja festival, which is going on in full swing in the Muslim-majority nation.
Bangladesh was stunned after Islamist extremists killed 20 hostages, including an Indian national and 16 more foreigners, during a siege at Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in Dhaka's Gulshan diplomatic zone on July 1.
Since then, security agencies have killed at least 32 suspected militants in raids in Dhaka and elsewhere.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the July 1 attack but the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rejected the claim and said the Sunni extremist group has no presence in the country.