NEW DELHI (AP) — Police in Bangladesh’s capital raided a five-story building Tuesday that was used as a den by suspected Islamic militants, killing nine of them, the country’s police chief said.
Authorities were investigating to see which group the men belonged to, but evidence showed they likely were from the banned local group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, said A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque, the police chief. JMB is blamed for a July 1 attack in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic area in which 20 people, including Italians and Japanese, were killed when armed gunmen stormed a restaurant.
“It will take a few hours to have a clear idea, but we have found them clad in black dress … suggesting they belong to the same group involved in the attack in Gulshan,” Hoque said.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the July 1 attack, and for many other recent attacks on atheist bloggers, foreigners and minority groups, but authorities have rejected the claims, saying there are no signs of the group having any operations in Bangladesh. Instead, the government says local militant groups, including the JMB, are behind the attacks, which have drawn global attention.
After police raided the building on Tuesday, the suspects attempted to flee by shooting their way out, but police shot them as they emerged, Hoque said.
One suspect was arrested and was being treated for injuries at a hospital after the raid, which took place in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur area, the police chief said.
Sheikh Maruf Hasan, a senior police official, told reporters that police found bombs and books on Jihad at the scene.
A resident of the building who identified himself with one name, Anik, told The Associated Press by phone that residents first heard gunshots after midnight and took cover by lying on the floor of the fifth floor of the building. The suspects lived on the fourth floor.
“We heard ‘Allahu akbar’ coming from the fourth floor as the firing began,” he said, using the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”
“It was a terrible situation,” he said.
The suspects had taken rent of the apartment very recently, said Mizanur Rahman, a police sub-inspector in the area.
Local media reported that the arrested man was being treated for bullet wounds.