Bangladesh commandos storm extremist hideout
Dhaka // Bangladesh commandos on Saturday stormed an extremist hideout in the country’s north-east, rescuing at least 78 civilians, in a major anti-militant drive.
The commandos backed by armoured personnel carriers launched the operation after a 30-hour standoff with the extremists who were inside a five-storey building in the city Sylhet.
“All 78 people from 28 civilian families who were trapped in the building for more than a day have been rescued by the army’s para commando battalion,” armed forces spokesman Colonel Rashidul Hasan said.
The commandos “exchanged fire” with the suspected militants who were confined in a ground-floor apartment of the building, he said.
Police said there were at least two militants, including a woman inside the building.
Acting on a tip police raided the building in the early hours of Friday and cordoned off the whole area after suspected militants detonated small bombs.
Police used loudspeakers to ask the extremists to surrender, but they refused to give up, Sylhet police spokesman Zedan Al Musa said.
The raid came after a series of suicide attacks on security camps by extremists this month including one at a police checkpoint near the country’s main international airport on Friday night.
ISIL said it carried out two of the attacks, including Friday’s blast.
The bombing was the third attack since last Friday, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a camp for the country’s elite security force near the airport.
This month a police elite unit also stormed a building outside the port city of Chittagong, killing four members of the home-grown extremist group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
ISIL has also said it carried out a wave of killings since 2015 including a major attack on a Dhaka cafe last year in which 22 people, including 18 foreigners, were killed.
The Bangladeshi government denies ISIL has any presence in the country, arguing instead that a new faction of JMB was behind that and other attacks.
Updated: March 25, 2017 04:00 AM