4 militants killed in Ctg raid
When the SWAT members were on the roof of the “militant den” in Chittagong's Sitakunda early yesterday morning, three militants charged towards them up the staircase with grenades in their hands. A fourth militant, a woman, was right behind the three wearing a “suicide vest”.
The SWAT members went behind their shields and opened fire. Shouting “Allahu Akbar”, the three suspects tried to hurl the grenades at the SWAT personnel but they exploded near them and tore their bodies apart.
The explosions also inured two SWAT personnel and blew off the corrugated iron sheet roof of the staircase.
The woman died after being shot. She fell to the ground before she could blow herself up.
This is how the 28-minute SWAT operation, named “Assault 16”, on the two-storey building in Sitakunda's Premtala area ended around 6:28am yesterday, an officer of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team, who took part in the operation, told The Daily Star.
During a briefing around 6:40pm at the spot, Additional SP of Chittagong district police headquarters Habibur Rahman said the cops also recovered the body of a child, aged around three to four months, just beside the body of the female “militant”.
None of the suspects was identified.
The injured SWAT members were admitted to Combined Military Hospital in Chittagong with splinter injuries.
Sanwar Hossain, additional deputy commissioner of bomb disposal unit of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, said they diffused 10 bombs, including seven powerful ones, and explosives of three suicide vests found in two backpacks near the bodies.
The unit completed defusing all explosives around 6:00pm.
Police also claimed to have recovered explosive substances at one of the rooms of the building. They said it was possible to make 40 to 50 powerful bombs with the substances.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Chittagong Range Shafiqul Islam while briefing reporters on the spot around 10:30am, however, gave a slightly different version.
Two male militants tried to walk up the staircase, shouting “Allahu Akbar”. They tried to come close to the SWAT team members and detonated their suicide vests, he said.
“Seeing this, the SWAT members fired on them. One of them fell on the ground, but the other vest exploded,” he added.
Police entered the building after the explosion and found four dead bodies lying there. “We have seen four dead bodies. Two of them were in very poor shape,” he said.
Asked how the other two suspected militants were killed, he said, “I assume they were killed in the blast. They were perhaps behind the other two militants who were in the front.
“Of the four, one was gunned down. The other three were killed in the explosion,” he said.
Shafiqul also said they were assuming that the militants were planning to target foreigners who are in Bangladesh and assisting in various development projects of the government.
After the SWAT operation, which was aided by the bomb disposal unit of CTTC and CMP and Chittagong district police, 20 tenants, stuck inside the two-storey building, were rescued unharmed.
They were taken to hospitals afterwards.
Police tracked down the hideout hours after they busted another “Neo JMB” den only a kilometre away around 3:00pm on Wednesday, and arrested two suspected militants who claimed to be a couple.
Around 3:30pm on Wednesday, police tried to start the operation at the Premtala hideout but their attempt failed as several families were inside the building. Police then kept the building – Chhayaneer -- cordoned off.
Around 6:00am yesterday, the SWAT members started their operation. As they made it to the rooftop, a large explosion was heard. Police then started firing incessantly. Five minutes later, everything became quiet, police and witnesses said.
Police fired sporadic gunshots with regular intervals until 6:15am. At that time, another small explosion was heard. Two minutes later, police resumed firing. Then again, everything became quiet.
Finally around 6:28am, a large explosion was heard with a fire ball erupting from the centre of the building, they said. The explosion jolted the entire area.
When asked whether Maynul Islam Musa, co-coordinator of “Neo JMB” in Chittagong, was among the dead, DIG Shafiqul Islam, during his briefing said, they were yet to identify the bodies.
He also said the man and the woman caught from the other den on Wednesday were not giving any information to the law enforcers.
Meanwhile, Rehena Begum, owner of the building, told our staff correspondent in Chittagong that two men, identifying themselves as brothers-in-law, rented the building two months ago.
Rehena's elder son Mohiuddin said the two men claimed that they were rubber traders and were from Cox's Bazar's Ramu upazila. They also submitted photocopies of the national ID cards to the landlord.
The Daily Star correspondent saw the photocopies but could not verify whether the NIDs were genuine.