Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on Wednesday recovered seven bodies including those of two women and two children from the militant hideout at Darus Salam in Mirpur, Dhaka after a 38-hour-long raid.
The charred remains were found inside an apartment on the fourth floor of the six-storey Komol Prova apartment building on Bordhon Bari Road, about 250 yards far from the Darus Salam police station.
RAB officers were still sweeping that floor for more explosives after a suspected New JMB militant, his four family members and two associates had blown themselves up on Tuesday night.
“We have found seven skulls from the militant den,” the elite force’s director general, Benazir Ahmed, told reporters at the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
“They are of militant Abdullah, his two wives, two children and two associates. The blasts and fire have fully burnt the bodies (so) identifying who is who is not possible right now.”
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Benazir added that they had finished removing both used and unused explosives and hazardous items from the third floor and were continuing the sweep on the fourth floor.
“The building is still risky for its residents to live in and we are working to make it safe for them,” he said.
Suspected Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB) member Abdullah lived in the flat with his wives Nasrin and Fatema, and two children Osama, 2, and Omar, 11, according to Darus Salam police’s tenant database.
The RAB chief said: “We have also learnt that many members of new faction of banned militant outfit JMB, including its chiefs Tamim Chowdhury and Sarwar Jahan, often stayed in this house.”
Earlier in the day, Benazir and Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque visited the area and the militant den, where Abdullah allegedly had stored a large amount of explosives and had been holed up since early Tuesday when RAB laid siege to the building.
RAB spokesperson Mufti Mahmud Khan told reporters that the building was now in “a risky condition” because of the bombs the militants exploded on Tuesday night. The blasts had damaged the third and fourth floors mostly.
The explosions had occurred after RAB, following hours of negotiation, had persuaded Abdullah to agree to his surrender in the evening.
Firefighter Rahid Khan told the Dhaka Tribune of how he had entered the building on Wednesday morning with RAB teams.
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“We found some kind of acid probably meant for the IPS units on the ground floor. The security forces will have to take time to sweep the dangerous elements out,” he said.
On Monday, RAB arrested two other militants from their home at Elenga in Tangail’s Kalihati upazila and recovered several firearms and a large quantity of Jihadi books. During interrogation, they had revealed Abdullah’s residence as a militant hideout.
These militants, who are also brothers, had planned to carry out attacks using explosive-carrying drones. They had also initially targeted some places for their attacks, RAB said.
RAB Additional Deputy General (Operations) Col Anwar Latif Khan told the Dhaka Tribune: “The building’s owner, Habibullah Bahar Azad, and Abdullah’s sister are still in our custody. We are questioning them.
“The other residents of the building who were rescued early Tuesday have also been sent home after verification,” he said.
A total of 65 residents of 23 flats in the building were evacuated by dawn on Tuesday, several hours after RAB began the raid.
Mohammad Abu, a resident of another building near Komol Prova, told the Dhaka Tribune at around noon on Wednesday: “I returned from Dinajpur this morning but could not get into my home. My family has been stuck inside the house since this raid started.”
Locals said the cable and internet connections in the area had been either disconnected or disrupted until Wednesday evening, while all shops and markets in the Darus Salam area had been mostly closed since Tuesday morning.
Some of the residents of the area held building owners responsible, alleging they take in new tenants randomly even without verifying their identities.