Two militant suspects were killed after they allegedly detonated improvised explosive devices in a house in the city’s Bosila area during a Rab raid early yesterday.
“The bodies were beyond recognition due to the blasts … We found three legs so at least two people were killed,” Rab Director General Benazir Ahmed told reporters after visiting the spot yesterday afternoon.
The Rab could not identify the bodies. They were of men aged between 20 and 25.
Rab cordoned off the corrugated-iron-sheet structure around 3:00am following a tip off that members of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were holed up there with explosives, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, Rab’s legal and media wing director.
The raid was carried out when the country is on high alert following deadly attacks in Sri Lanka, allegedly by Islamic State, just over a week ago.
Mufti said the suspects responded with gunfire when Rab asked them to surrender. There was a small explosion around 3:00am. Things went quiet following a huge explosion around 4:45am, he said.
The second explosion was so strong that a part of the tin roof blew away and caused a fire.
Later, on inspection, body parts were found scattered. There was hardly any furniture in the house. A refrigerator was damaged and the ceiling fan blades were bent in explosion.
The house, on the eastern end of Metro Housing area, is around half a kilometre away from Rab-2 headquarters. It is surrounded by a canal, a two-storey building, and some empty plots.
Rab officials said the suspects, calling themselves Sujan and Suman, had rented a room of the house from landlord Abdul Wahab for Tk 1,500 a month around one-and-half months ago. They claimed to be rickshaw-van pullers and were supposed to vacate the room next month.
Rab said Wahab started using a room of the house as a mosque a week ago and imam of the mosque, Yusuf, used to live in another room. Sohag, the caretaker of the house, lives in a room with his wife and two children while tenant Junayed stayed in a small room.
A Rab official, who took part in the drive, said Sohag’s wife opened the door when they knocked around 3:00am yesterday. The Rab personnel heard people performing jikir (devotional act in Islam in which short phrases or prayers are repeatedly recited).
When the Rab men asked the ones performing jikir to come out, they started shooting.
Sohag, his wife and children, Yusuf and Junayed were immediately evacuated, the official said requesting anonymity.
People in nearby building were also evacuated.
The elite force then fired 150 bullets at the house, the official said.
Later yesterday, crime scene unit of Criminal Investigation Department collected evidence, including DNA samples.
Rab claimed to have recovered three pistols and four IEDs that were later diffused.
They took landlord Wahab, Sohag, his wife, and Yusuf in for questioning.
Mohammadpur police said Wahab did not submit the mandatory tenant information form to the police.
Fifty-year-old Rahima Begum could not believe two of her next-door neighbours were militant suspects. She said she visited caretaker Sohag’s room Sunday evening.
“Rab men were asking us to leave the house with my three children and husband. Suddenly, I heard gunshots. We immediately hid inside and heard someone in the house shout ‘fire as much as you can’,” she told The Daily Star.
She said Rab personnel escorted them to safety minutes later.
Abdullah Al Mamun, resident of a nearby building, said, “I woke up to sounds of shots. As I opened the door, I saw many Rab men.
“They asked me not to come out,” he said.
Many locals said they were unaware that there was a mosque in the house.
However, a local said he recently heard Azan (call for prayer) from the mosque but it was quite earlier than Azans of other mosques.
The bodies were sent to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Morgue for autopsy.