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Bangladesh police have killed nine suspected Islamist extremists in a gun battle after storming a militant hideout in the capital Dhaka, officials say
Police says they were ‘most likely’ members of Jamaat ul Mujahideen (JMB) that staged the massive July 1 attack on Gulshan cafe and later at Sholokia Eid grounds in Kishoreganj.
28 people including many foreigners were killed in these attacks.
“Nine Islamist militants were killed after [a] two-hour-long gunfight,” deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Masud Ahmed told journalists.
He added that another extremist was shot and arrested during the raid in the Kalyanpur neighbourhood.
Bangladesh police chief AKM Shohidul Haque told reporters they suspected all 10 were members of the homegrown extremist group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which was blamed for the Dhaka cafe attack.
Five gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in the upscale Gulshan neighbourhood on July 1 and killed 20 hostages including nine Italians and seven Japanese nationals before commandos ended the siege.
The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Bangladeshi authorities rejected the claim saying international jihadist networks have no presence in the world’s third largest Muslim majority nation.
Mr. Haque stressed that the nine people killed in the operation had no connection with IS jihadists, even though they were wearing the group’s signature black robes.
Mr. Haque added they had rented a fourth-floor flat and were planning to launch a large-scale attack.
Police said they cordoned off an apartment building after suspects threw a small hand bomb at officers who were conducting a “block raid” in the area after midnight.
The Islamist gunmen exchanged fire intermittently throughout the night and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the Greatest”) as the neighbourhood was sealed off by hundreds of heavily armed police and the elite security force Rapid Action Battalion, police said.
In fact, one Rakilbul Hassan Regan , arrested with bullet wounds from the ‘Taj Manzil’ , the 6 storey building where the JMB militants were staying, has confessed that he was preparing to go to Syria for waging jihad.
That indicates that the JMB is not only stepping up its own offensive in Bangladesh but also recruiting for ISIS.
The government and police say homegrown extremists are responsible for the deaths of some 80 secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities since 2013.