DHAKA: Bangladesh police raided a militant hideout in the capital Friday, killing a suspected top militant who helped plan the deadly attack on a cafe in Dhaka that left 22 people dead in July.
Police said the slain extremist was Major Murad, 35, who stabbed and injured three officers during the raid on a five-storey building in Dhaka’s Rupnagar neighbourhood where the suspect had rented a flat.
“He was a senior member of the JMB (Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh) and trained the five gunmen who attacked the Gulshan cafe,” Sanwar Hossain, a senior counter-terrorism officer in the Dhaka police force, told AFP.
“He was smart and fluent in English. He was the chief trainer of the JMB and one of the planners of the cafe attack. He was shot dead after he stabbed three of our officers who were trying to take him alive,” he said, adding that the three policemen had been hospitalised.
The raid came days after police killed three suspected militants including the alleged mastermind of the cafe attack, JMB leader Tamim Chowdhury, a Canadian citizen.
Police have blamed the JMB for a wave of murders targeting foreigners and members of religious minorities in which at least 80 people have been killed.
Since the cafe attack in July police have shot dead at least 27 militants.
The militant Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the Gulshan attack, releasing photos from inside the cafe during the siege and of the five men who carried out the deadly assault and were shot dead at its finale.
But Bangladeshi authorities have rejected the claim, saying international militant networks have no presence in the world’s third-largest Muslim-majority nation.
Critics say Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s administration is in denial about the nature of the threat posed by Islamist extremists and accuse her of trying to exploit the attacks to demonise her domestic opponents.
Earlier this week US Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to Dhaka that there was evidence to link the extremists behind the recent spate of deadly attacks in Bangladesh to IS.