Another militant den at Sadar upazila’s Madhabdi is still cordoned off by law enforcement agencies
The bodies of two suspected militants have been found in a hideout in the Meherpara union’s Bhagirathpur area of the Narsingdi Sadar upazila after a six-hour-long police raid, christened Operation Gordian Knot, ended.
Police were, however, yet to determine their identities and how the two died, Monirul Islam, chief of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational (CTTC) Unit, told reporters at the scene Tuesday afternoon.
“We had asked the militants to surrender before launching the assault, but they started shooting at our officials, triggering a gunfight.
“The two suspected militants died at that time, but we are not sure yet whether they were killed during the firefight or committed suicide by exploding bombs,” he said.
He said the joint operation in the five-story building at Bhagirathpur started around 10am and ended around 4pm with the recovery of the bodies of a man and a woman, both in their 30s, a firearm and four unexploded bombs.
“They had the bombs already made. It indicates that they had plans to carry out a major attack,” Monirul said.
Earlier in the morning, members of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s (DMP) CTTC Unit and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) started the operation in the building, situated about 200 metres away from the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway.
Police, since 8pm Monday, had cordoned off the building, on the fourth floor of which they said the militants were holed up.
Although the operation ended Tuesday afternoon, the area was still surrounded by officials of different law enforcement agencies as police’s forensic team continued their sweep in the building.
From around the same time Monday night, the agencies have been keeping an eye on another suspected militant den, inside a seven-storey building named Nilufa Villa, cordoned off in the Madhabdi municipality’s Chhoto Godairchar (Gangpar) area in the Sadarupazila – about two kilometres away from the building at Bhagirathpur.
In this regard, CTTC Unit chief Monirul said:“We plan to conduct our operation there in daylight. We are now negotiating with several militants who are in there. One of them is a woman.
“Like we did here [Bhagirathpur], those militants will also be asked to surrender first. If they do, there won’t be any need for an operation. But if they don’t, we will discuss and finalize our next move.”
He also said that the militants of both dens, suspected to be members of the new revived faction of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB), were communicating with each other.
Operation Gordian Knot chronicles
Based on intelligence reports, police had cordoned off the two militant dens in Narsingdi on Monday evening, DMP’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan told the Dhaka Tribune.
Madhabdi police station OC Abul Kalam also said that more than 100 policemen from the CTTC Unit, Narisingdi district and Madhabdi police initially had surrounded the building owned Afzal Haji in the Gangpar area and the other building owned by clothes trader Billal Hossain in the Bhagirathpur area.
Later in the morning, teams from SWAT, DMP’s Detective Branch, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), bomb disposal unit, Criminal Investigation Department(CID) and other nearby police stations also joined them at both sites.
Around 6am, the local administration issued a Section 144 within 500yards of both buildings, while urging the residents of the area to not leave their houses for security reasons.
Around 8:30am, the gas and power connections of the buildings were severed.
CTTC Unit chief Monirul Islam arrived at the Bhagirathpur scene around 9am, and briefed reporters.
He said that even though they cordoned off the two buildings, their residents were safely evacuated and the militants were trapped.At the time, he also said that they were doing their best to make the militants surrender. “But if they don’t, we will take action in accordance with the law.”
An hour later, the operation at Bhagirathpur started – which saw SWAT and CTTC officials engaging in gunfight with the suspected militants in phases.
Visiting the spot around 12:45pm when the raid was midway, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Patwari told reporters: “The militants currently have a better position over the SWAT team.
“But we have an idea about their firepower. We cannot share the details now. The media will be briefed later. It will take more time.”
Police during the raid also detained one Md Nazmul for allegedly recommending the militant suspects as tenants ofthatbuilding.
According to the owners of the buildings in the Gangpar and Bhagirathpur areas, both flats in their houses were rented between October 5 and 7.
One of the other tenants of Billal’s building said that the couple who rented the top floor flat had been dillydallying in submitting the necessary documents to the owner.
After a similar raid on a house near the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway at Mirsarai, Chittagong, RABhad found the bodies of two militants, explosives, arms and ammunition on October 5.