Bangladesh Police on Saturday arrested three suspected women militants, including the wives of two top wanted terrorists, and seized suicide vests, arms and explosives during a raid at an Islamist den in a residential area in western Bangladesh’s Kushtia district. Police cordoned off a tin-shed house near a mosque in Kushtia’s Bheramara area around midnight last night after an information from the counter-terrorism unit and then started a joint operation around 3 am, Kushtia Superintendent of Police SM Mehedi Hossain said.
During the operation, a woman wearing a suicide vest attempted to attack police, but she was stopped before it exploded. Later, police detained two more women militants with two children from the hideout. Nasima Khatun, the house owner, said the women had rented the house around two months ago, police official said. Police recovered two suicide vests, a pistol and gun powder from the hideout.
People from neighbouring house have also been evacuated and the house is kept cordoned off. The arrested women have been identified as Tithi, the wife of Neo-JMB’s incumbent leader Ayub Bachchu, Sumaiya, the wife of neo-JMB second-in-command Annaman Ali, and Toli Begum, the wife of Rashed aka Talha of Bheramara’s Daulatpur village, police said.
“We believe the militants were using the house as a weapon cache keeping explosives,” Hossain said. The raids were part of an intensified crackdown on militants following the last year’s Dhaka cafe attack. The country, which is grappling to rein in radical Islamists, on Saturday marked the first anniversary of the gruesome incident which claimed 22 lives. The Holey Artisan Bakery and O’ Kitchen restaurant in the upmarket Gulshan area which was closed since the attack was today opened for the public to pay respect to those killed in the attack.