Three militant suspects were killed after they allegedly detonated suicide vests during an anti-terror operation by Rapid Action Battalion at a remote char on the Padma in Chapainawabganj yesterday.
The Rab could not immediately identify the bodies. They were unrecognisable due to the powerful blasts. The force claimed that those killed were members of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
The explosion also put the thatched house they were in on fire. It was completely burned down with the bodies inside.
“It seems they exploded their suicide vests as their severed hands and legs were found scattered,” Mufti Mahmud Khan, legal and media wing director of Rab, told The Daily Star.
He said the militants were using the house as a training centre and a shelter. The explosives were manufactured there to carry out subversive activities, he said.
Around 1:00pm, the 10-hour-long raid ended at the “militants' den” in the middle of a large char on the Padma.
Three improvised explosive devices (IEDs), seven detonators, 12 packs of explosives gel and two pistols were recovered from the spot. The Bomb Disposal Unit of Rab later swept the area and defused two bombs.
Rab has detained owner of the house Rafiqul Islam, his wife and her mother at Sabdipur in Godagari of Rajshahi.
Locals of the char said there were no structures within one and a half kilometres of the house that was built allegedly to rear cattle.
Mufti said two people claiming to be birdwatchers moved into the house around 15 days ago paying Tk 1,500 monthly rent.
A few days ago, two unidentified men were seen wandering in the area. When locals asked them about their identities, they said they were NGO workers.
The Rab director further said their intelligence unit located the “militants den” following clues from a recently arrested militant suspect.
The suspect arrested in the case filed after the raid on a “militants den” at the capital's Darussalam in September said some of his cohorts were hiding in remote char areas, Rab said.
During that operation on September 4-8, Abdullah alias Meer Akrabul Karim, a suspected JMB leader, was killed along with his two wives, two children and two of his associates in massive explosions inside the Darussalam flat.
Rab claimed that Abdullah had exploded "powerful" bombs and later recovered seven skulls from the flat.
After the operation yesterday, Mufti told reporters on the spot that their members cordoned off the house around 3:00am and asked the militants to surrender.
In response, the militants hurled some bombs and grenades at the Rab members who retaliated with gunfire.
After a 40-minute lull in the fighting, the militants again exploded a bomb.
“A massive explosion occurred inside the house around 5:00am. The blast put the entire house on fire,” Mufti added.
Only some bamboo poles could be seen from around half a kilometre away. Journalists were barred from proceeding further, reported our Chapainawabganj correspondent from the spot.
Six to seven buffalos were seen tied around 15 to 20 yards away from the house.
Mejbahul Haque, Alatoli Union Parishad member, said Rafiqul built the house around four years ago for farming and rearing cattle.
One of his sons used to go to the char in the morning and return home in the afternoon after taking care of the cattle, locals say.
The bodies of the three suspects were taken to Chapainawabganj Sadar Hospital last night.