An Islamist militant was killed in a suicide blast during a counter-terror raid at a Dhaka hotel as he was plotting to attack a rally taken out to pay homage to Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, police said today. The police said Saiful Islam, an operative of the outlawed Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group, was under surveillance for the past two days and was killed in operation ‘August Bite’.
The elite SWAT team shot the militant when he triggered to blow the the door of his hotel room and tried to trigger another bomb, police chief AKM Shahidul Haque told reporters. “He attempted to trigger a second bomb prompting police to fire shots as he also set off his suicide vest,” he said. Witnesses said that up to a kilometre of road was blocked for the anti-terror operation.
Another official familiar with the development said the police had kept a vigil on the militant following a tip-off he was planning to attack a rally on the National Mourning Day.
On August 15, thousands of people take out a procession in Dhaka to mark the anniversary of the assassination of the ‘Bangabandhu’, who was killed along with most of his family members in a military coup in 1975. His daughter and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina survived as she was touring abroad. Black flags dominated the skyline in Dhaka today.
Hasina’s government blames the JMB for a number of deadly attacks in Bangladesh. Several foreigners, bloggers and rights activists have been targeted by the group in recent years. In one of the deadliest attack in Bangladesh, five gunmen stormed an upscale cafe in Dhaka in July last year and killed 22 people, 18 of them were foreigners.
The Islamic State claimed the brutal attack but the government has insisted the group has no base in the country and the attacks were carried out by homegrown militant groups like the JMB.