A female militant blew herself up during a police raid in a militant hideout at Dhaka’s Ashkona, marking the first time a woman acted in the capacity of a suicide bomber in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s new wave of violent extremists, notably the New Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh outfit, are fielding an unprecedented number of female jihadists.
Yesterday’s fatal detonation of an explosive by a female militant during a 16-hour police raid on her hideout marked the first time a woman here has acted in the capacity of a suicide bomber.
Police said three women and four children were inside the militant hideout in Ashkona, near Uttara and that two women and two children surrendered before the final showdown.
According to Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) chief Monirul Islam, the female militant, clad in a burqa, came out of the flat with a seven-year-old girl around 12:20pm yesterday.
CTTC Additional DIG Sanowar added: “The woman came out with a girl and blew herself up chanting ‘We will go to heaven.’”
Monirul confirmed the woman died in the explosion. Police believe her to be the wife of militant operative Sumon, whose exact whereabouts and current operational status are unclear.
The blast injured the young girl, who is being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, and two policemen.
The girl has been identified as Sabina. But the police yesterday could not confirm her parents’ identities.
The woman suicide-bomber and a teenage boy died in the raid.
Afif Qadri, the fifteen-year old son of militant financier Tanvir Qadri, died inside the apartment. The cause of his death has not been ascertained. Police are not sure whether a bullet took his life or whether he blew himself up with a grenade.
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No longer a man’s job
Terrorism is increasingly becoming an equal opportunity enterprise. Scores of women have been involved in militant activities during the recent wave of Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh.
The following is an account of known female jihadists encountered in recent police and law enforcement raids compiled by the Dhaka Tribune.
On May 8, Bogra police arrested Masuma Akter, wife of JMB’s Chittagong wing commander Raisul Islam Khan alias Fardeen, who was earlier killed while making bombs. Two other women were also caught with her.
On July 24, Detective Branch of Sirajganj police arrested four female JMB members. In nearby Tangail, Kalihati police on July 6 arrested three female JMB members, aged between 19 and 30.
In the capital, the arrest of four suspected members of JMB’s female wing by RAB led to information about at least 20 more women involved in the group, although only 10 names could be extracted from the arrestees. Many of these are believed to be aliases.
CTTC raids in Dhaka’s Azimpur area on October 6 yielded three arrests. RAB raids in Gazipur have led to four arrests.
Yesterday, the Detective Branch of police took two women from the Ashkona raid into custody.
‘Jebunnahar, please come out, I want to see you alive’
One of the women who surrendered has been identified as Jebunnahar, the wife of militant operative Zahid, alias Maj (retd) Murad, who was killed during a raid in Dhaka’s Rupnagar area.
The militant’s mother made an impassioned plea to her daughter during the raid, asking her to surrender using a police megaphone.
CTTC unit had encircled the three-storey building in Dhaka’s Ashkona.
“We kept our doors and windows closed since the raid began. In the morning we heard a sad voice over a police megaphone saying ‘Jebunnahar, please come out, I want to see you alive. They will not hurt you,’” said Rubel, a senior bank officer who lives on the second floor of the house.
He added: “The police urged the militants over the megaphone to surrender, assuring them of due process and guaranteeing that no physical harm would be done to them.”
Police also requested the militants to turn on their mobile phones: “Your families want to talk to you, please switch on your mobiles.”
The four militants who surrendered, brought with them a pistol, six rounds of bullets and some explosives. They are now in DB custody.
The detainees include Jebunnahar Islam Shila, wife of Murad (alias Zahid), Trishna, wife of Musa, their seven-year-old daughter and their 15-month-old daughter.