Bangladesh police raided a building in the capital on Tuesday and killed nine suspected militants possibly linked with the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the country’s police chief said.
One suspect was shot and arrested and was being treated in the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Haque.
Haque did not name the group the suspects belonged ,to but said their clothing and other evidence suggested they were members of the JMB, which was blamed for the July 1 attack on a café in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan area. At least five gunmen killed 20 people, most of them foreign nationals from countries such as Italy, India and Japan, during that attack.
A SWAT team stormed the five-storey building in Kalyanpur, police said, adding a search conducted within the structure after the raid ended at 6.51 am.
Earlier, the militants intermittently exchanged fire with police through the night and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) as the neighbourhood was sealed off by hundreds of heavily armed policemen and personnel from the elite Rapid Action Battalion, officials said.
The Daily Star newspaper reported the arrested man had been identified as “Hasan” and hailed from northern Bogra district. He reportedly told doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where he was being treated for bullet injuries, that he used to cook for the nine other men living in the building.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told a news conference that primary evidence suggested the dead militants belonged to the group that was behind the July 1 attack on Holey Artisan Bakery.
The dead men were aged between 20 and 25 years. “Their photographs have been taken. We are working to identify them,” Mia said.
He described the operation as successful and said police recovered revolvers, 23 grenades, five kg of explosives, knives, a sword and two black flags.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery but Bangladeshi officials have blamed JMB for it.
Bangladesh has been hit by a string of attacks by militants amid a political blame game that has further polarised the nation, with the Jamaat-e-Islami party being the central focus of the dispute.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and many of her senior ministers often blame the Jamaat and its partner, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by former premier Khaleda Zia, for the rise of militant activities in the Muslim-majority nation. The Jamaat has rejected these allegations.