A Bangladesh origin Canadian national wanted in Gulshan attack case and two other extremism suspects were killed in ‘gunfight’ with police inside an apartment in Narayanganj city during a raid on Saturday.
The 31-year-old, Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, and two others were found killed in two rooms at their rented apartment in the city’s Paikpara in the morning after the police headquarters-guided 45-minute operation Hit-Strong 27 ended at about 9:30am.
The police branded Tamim as the leader of banned Islamist outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and one of the ‘masterminds’ of the Gulshan attack.
The police later in the day identified two others as Fazle Rabbi of New Town in Jessore and Tausif Hossain of Ramchandrapur in Rajshahi. The bodies of the three were sent to the Dhaka Medical College morgue at night amid tight police protection.
‘With the elimination of the mastermind of the Gulshan cafe attack, the confidence of the people would be further increased as Bangladesh does what it says and the anti-militancy role is strictly maintained in Bangladesh,’ prime minister Sheikh Hasina said, report news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
She made the comments responding to a question at a press conference at Ganabhaban.
‘With the killing of the mastermind of the recent militant attacks, the country was freed from another curse,’ she said and extended her sincere thanks to the law enforcement agencies.
According to the police, Tamim of Biyanibazar upazila of Sylhet came to Bangladesh from Canada at the end of 2013.
The police said they seized an AK-22 rifle, the similar weapon seized after Gulshan attack, and a .22bore pistol along with improvised explosive device from the apartment located on the top-floor of the three-storey rode-side building, beside a graveyard.
Some photographs, collected by New Age, showed the body of Tamim was lying with face downwards on a pool of blood with a black T-shirt and Khaki trousers while bodies of two others were laying closely in another room on a pool of blood. One AK-22 rifle was on the body of them.
‘The episode of Tamim Chowdhury is closed. He was one of the key persons,’ announced the police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit additional deputy commissioner Sanwar Hossain.
There were no casualties of the cops.
It was not confirmed whether any person was captured while escaping. The police, however, picked the landlord and his four family members, among others, for ‘screening.’
Tamim was wanted from early August and a Tk 20 lakh bounty was announced after his alleged connection was found in the July 1 Gulshan café attack, which left at least 29 people including 20 local and foreign hostages killed.
Investigators said that they had conducted the raid based on leads from a detained suspect in an attack on a prison van at Trishal in Mymensingh.
Sanwar claimed that they had conducted the raid after a long waiting and the gunfight erupted after the extremists rejected repeated calls for surrender to the law enforcers.
‘We hit them when we saw that they were burning something inside the apartment,’ he said, adding that they found two together and Tamim little away.
He said that at about 2:30am, they confirmed the whereabouts of the extremists’ hideout in Naranyangnaj and they started preparation from 6:30am for the raid in coordination with the other agencies.
He said that the final operation started at about 8:45am and lasted for about 45 minutes with ‘exchange of bullets.’
The extremists also hurled crude-bombs targeting the cops, claimed Sanwar.
Assistant inspector general of police Md Moniruzzaman told the reporters that the militants had burned some personal belongings including laptops, mobile phone sets and documents.
He said initially the landlord requested the ‘tenants’ to surrender to the police and later the police requested them.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, ‘They paid no heed to our call.’
Sanwar said five people lived in the apartment on an average since July 5. ‘But, we found only three inside the apartment,’ he said. They used the house as a ‘command post.’
The landlord, Nuruddin Dewan, also the brother of Narayanganj Awami League general secretary Kamal Uddin Dewan, said two people — Rana and Murad — rented the apartment in July for monthly rent of Tk 7,000 introducing themselves as the sales representatives of a leading group of companies.
He said that he asked for submitting their identity cards but they were buying time. Whereabouts of Rana and Murad could not be established.
The police later on the day took Nurunddin and his four family members into their ‘safe custody’.
The police also cordoned the building and none were allowed to enter the building.
Witnesses said the law enforcers started deployment since morning encircling the building. At about 8:30am, the cops entered nearby buildings and asked the residents to stay inside.
‘I was curious but police forbade us to see what was happening,’ said Amir Hossain, a nearby resident.
Another neighbour Mohammad Bulu said police with weapons entered their house and took position targeting at the building where suspects were living.
‘They also asked us not to see them rather go to another room for safety,’ said Bulu, a resident of nearby four-storey building.
A neighbour, Shahidullah, also a local Awami League leader, however, said he saw a white microbus parked in front of the building at about 3:00am and two people came out of the building.
The microbus left the house hurriedly. ‘I bought some bread from a nearby bakery which runs over night and went to my house,’ said the elderly man.
Criminal Investigation Department officials entered the crime scene few hours after the operation for forensic collection.
Narayanganj police station officer-in-charge Md Asaduzzaman said the preparation of filing a case was underway. The bodies were sent to district government hospital for post-mortem examination.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Hoque and other senior police officials visited the spot.
The minister said that the number of such extremists was a few and they would be ‘crushed.’
The operation came two days before the scheduled arrival of US secretary of state John Kerry, who would visit Dhaka on the August 29 to discuss the way to strengthen bilateral relations between the two counties in the field of curbing extremism and protecting human rights.
In the Gulshan attack on July 1, the attackers killed 20 hostages — nine Italian, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, one Indian and one Bangladesh-born US citizen — and two police officers. Five attackers were also killed in a military operation that ended the hostage crisis on July 2.
Source: New Age