When police raided the suspected militant den in “Jahaj Bari” on Road no 5 in Kallyanpur, Dhaka early morning yesterday, they found several black panjabis, two black flags with “Allahu Akbar” written in Arabic, and jihadi books.
The militants themselves were wearing black panjabis and “keffiyeh” – the red-and-white chequered scarf commonly used by Arabs, according to police sources.
The black flags and the keffiyehs are particularly used by the members of international terrorist group Islamic State (IS).
However, police say the militants of Kallyanpur were likely part of home-grown outfits, not the international organisation.
“They [the militants] were wearing black clothes and claimed they had links with Islamic State, but we have not found any evidence of that,” said Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque.
He said the militants were members of home-grown militant group, and likely had links with banned militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). “We also suspect they may have been part of the same group as the attackers of Gulshan and Sholakia.”
A joint force of several units of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) led by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit raided the six-storey building named Jahaj Bari in Kallyanpur around 5:51am yesterday, resulting in a gunfight that killed nine militants.
Two other militants survived, one of whom was able to flee while the other was caught wounded by police, said DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia.
The detained militant, identifying himself as Rakibul Hasan Rigan, who is currently undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), told police that he and his fellow group members were inspired by IS, a DMCH staff member told the Dhaka Tribune, requesting anonymity.
The DMCH staff further said Rigan said the 11-member group was led by Robin, and some of the other members were Sabbir, Taposh, Ovi, Atik, Sohan, Imran and Iqbal.
Police, however, did not give any details on the identities of the dead militants until this report was filed late last night.
Militants posed as students to rent the flat
The militants rented a flat on the fourth floor of the building on June 20, but started living in it from July 12, according to sources at the Counterterrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit of police.
When renting the flat, they produced fake identity cards and posed as students of Mirpur Bangla College, the sources said.
Police recovered some physics and chemistry textbooks along with bombs and other weapons from the flat during the raid.
The militants were also not friendly with other residents in the building, said one of the residents.
“We never really met or talked with them; we know nothing about them,” the neighbour said, seeking anonymity.
Police has taken all residents of the building – 42 of them – into custody for interrogation.
The building has been cordoned off; no one can leave or enter the building until further instruction, said Inspector Syed Shahid Alam of Rupnagar police station.
They were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’
The militants were shouting “Allahu Akbar (Allah is great)” and “Islamer shotru nipat jak (May the enemies of Islam be destroyed)” when they shot at police, said Shaikh Maruf Hasan, additional commissioner of police at DMP.
DMP commissioner said when police launched the raid, two of the 11-member group managed to jump from the fourth floor of the building to the roof of the adjacent two-storey building and started hurling bombs at police. Later one fled, and the other was arrested.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said this operation – dubbed Operation Storm 26 – was successful.
“Law enforcers carried out the operation based on prior information. The militants were planning large-scale attacks there. When police reached there, they opened fire at them. But police was successful in foiling their attack,” he told reporters at the Secretariat yesterday.
Praising the law enforcers, he said they had shown efficiency in the operation.
In reply to a question, the home minister said: “Considering their attire, it seems that these [Kallyanpur] militants and Gulshan attackers may have been affiliated.”
He also said Gulshan and Sholakia attackers as well as Kallyanpur militants may have been drug addicted. “But it can only be confirmed by necessary tests.”
Police seek public help to identify killed militants
Police have released chilling photos of the operation, which include photos of the dead militants.
Police recovered jihadi books and notebooks, laptops, daggers, pistols and ammunition.
The photos also show HSC textbooks, shaving foam, tooth brush and Wilson backpacks.
One photo shows an IS flag hung over a window as a curtain.
Several photos show burnt remains of paper strewn over the floor, which the militants reportedly destroyed before police entered the flat.
The DMP published the photos of nine dead militants on their official Facebook page last night and sought help from Facebook users in identifying them.
They asked to email the information at [email protected]
or send a message to their Facebook page inbox.
Autopsy of dead militants today
The nine dead bodies were taken for autopsy examinations to the DMCH, but it was not done yesterday as the forensic experts did not receive the police inquest report as of last night, said Dr Sohel Mahmud, assistant professor at Dhaka Medical College forensic department.
He said the autopsies would be conducted today.
In reply to a question, Sohel said primary investigation revealed all nine bodies to have bullet wounds. “Further details will be disclosed after the procedure is done.”