At least three Islamic militants blew themselves on Thursday in Bangladesh when police raided their hideout outside the port city of Chittagong as part of an intensified crackdown on militants. The operation ‘Assault 16’ was jointly carried out by Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit, Special Weapon and Tactic Team (SWAT), Rapid Action Battalion and Chittagong district police in Sitakunda.
The gunfight began after police stormed a two-storey building where militants were staying as tenants. According to media reports, the suspected militants were apparently killed in “suicide explosions”.
The extremists, believed to be operatives of banned Neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), hurled grenades and fired gunshots before blowing themselves up. Two policemen also injured during the raid.
Ambulances were seen coming out from the site carrying wounded policemen with officials. “Police launched an operation when the militants started blasting grenades…explosions rocked the neighbourhood for nearly 10 minutes,” a journalist told PTI.
“Several families were living in that house and they were freed after spending the night as hostages,” the journalist said. The building has been cordoned off.
Neo-JMB is said to be inclined to the Islamic State terror outfit which has claimed the responsibility for the deadly July 1, 2016 attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, including an Indian, were killed.
Earlier, a couple was arrested from a suspected militant hideout at Chittagong’s Sitakunda. A police spokesman in Dhaka told PTI the law enforcement agencies have launched countrywide “block raids” targeting presumed militant hideout since last Thursday. Eighty militants have been killed in these raids so far.
Bangladesh witnessed a spate of attacks on secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities since 2013. The country launched a massive crackdown on militants specially after the Dhaka cafe attack.