Amid a crackdown on suspected Islamist militants, police in Bangladesh’s capital have killed an alleged military commander of a banned group blamed for a string of attacks including the July 1 Gulshan bakery attack that killed 17 foreigners, authorities said.
The latest raid took place at Rupnagar residential area in Dhaka’s Mirpur zone late on Friday when police killed Murad alias Jahangir alias Omar after he allegedly opened fire at security officials before using a knife. Until early Saturday, details remained sketchy and the man’s family and personal background was still being investigated. Police said he was the “military commander” of the Jamatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB).
Monirul Islam, head of a counterterrorism unit, said police raided the six-storey house on a tip-off that the man entered the home to take his belongings on Friday night. He had left the rented home after an August 27 raid outside Dhaka in which a leading JMB figure was killed along with two accomplices. Local media described the man as “Major Murad”, but it was not immediately clear whether he held any military post in Bangladesh Army. Officials would need more time to confirm the matter.
Islam said he was the man to train militants who opened fire on Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1 in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan area, leading to the death of 29 people.
The counterterrorism chief said they came to know about the man after the August 27 raid in Narayanganj, but he became traceless from the next day as he left the rented home along with family.
“We wanted the landlord to inform us if he comes back. We apprehended him as he came last night,” he said.
The official said the man first opened fire at police from a pistol before using the knife. But he died on the spot after police shot back, he said.
The official said the man regularly frequented a militant hideout in Narayanganj district where Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi-origin Canadian and mastermind of the July 1 assault, was killed along with two associates in the August 27 police raid.
Chowdhury was thought to be the Islamic State group’s head in Bangladesh. Reports said he left Canada for Syria to join the IS and then came to Bangladesh years ago to lead the group. The Bangladesh government has denied the existence of IS in Bangladesh.
The IS has claimed responsibilities for several attacks Bangladesh experienced since last year, including the one on July 1. The claims could not be verified independently.
Security officials are looking for sacked army major Syed Ziaul Huq, who, the authorities described, was another mastermind of the recent attacks, including the July 1 shootout.