The sound of an explosion and several gunshots were heard in the Bangladeshi capital on Saturday as police’s elite counter terrorism unit laid siege to a three-storey building where heavily-armed militants, belonging to a Islamist group behind the July 1 terror attack, are holed up.
“The inmates have vowed to fight us with grenades… we are repeatedly asking them to give up,” Dhaka’s police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mian told reporters at the scene at Ashkona area of the capital.
He said two women already came out from the three-storey building with their children.
Police said three militants believed to be operatives of neo-Jamaatun Mujahideen Bangladesh (neo-JMB) were inside the building.
“One of the three is a son of a slain neo-JMB leader but we are yet to know the identity of two others,” Mia said.
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The outfit, said to be inclined to the Islamic State, was behind the July 1 terror attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed.
The commissioner has said police wants to capture the militants alive without using force “as any miscalculation could appear deadly in this densely populated neighbourhood”.
Another official at the scene said one of the two women who surrendered was the wife of a slain renegade ex-army major who was killed on September 2 this year in a police encounter during a nearly identical raid at Dhaka’s Mirpur area. The other woman was the wife of a neo-JMB leader.
Witnesses said police was repeatedly asking the inmates to surrender using megaphones but they were threatening to detonate grenades tied to their bodies.
Ambulances and fire fighting units were kept stand-by outside the building while elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and plainclothesmen cordoned off the area.