Joint forces, including an army team, were set to raid a suspected den of extremists in a building at Pathanpara in Sylhet city Friday night.
Law enforcing had agencies cordoned the building off from people from early Friday and a team of army from Jalalabad Cantonment in Sylhet reached the spot at about 7:45pm, witnesses said.
Police officials said that they were suspecting that two-five religious extremists were hiding in the twin building at Dakhin Pathanpara near Shibbari Bazar at Dakkhin Surma in the city.
Sylhet Metropolitan Police commissioner Golam Rabbani said at about 8:30pm that a Special Weapon And Tactics team was preparing to launch a joint operation in the building.
‘SWAT is preparing to launch the operation and it will start any moment,’ he said.
At about 4:00pm, four SWAT units reached the spot from Dhaka, said Golam Rabbani.
A team of army from the Jalalabad Cantonment in Sylhet reached the spot at around 7:45pm.
Golam Rabbani told the reporters that the army team was inspecting the overall situation. ‘We suspect that there are some explosives in the hideout of the extremists,’ he said.
Two units of Sylhet fire service and two ambulances of Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital were also reached the spot.
Earlier at around 3:00am, a joint force team comprising the counter-terrorism unit and metropolitan police cordoned off the twin building, Atia Mahal.
They locked the door of an apartment in the ground floor of the five-storey building, in which the law enforcers believed that the suspected extremists were staying.
Local people said that about 70 people lived at 29 others apartments in the building and they got trapped there as the law enforcers locked the main entrance.
They said that they heard blasts at an apartment in the building at about 6:00am and immediately after that sounds of firing.
The police commissioner also asked the suspected extremists using a public address system at about 1:00pm to surrender.
‘A man and a woman from the ground floor of the building shouted several times at about noon “you are loyal to the team of Satan and we are on the way of Allah,’” said local resident Maruf Ahmad.
The extremists asked the police at about 1:30pm to allow them to come out of the house, added another youth Shoeb. ‘We have not much time. Bring SWAT, we want to surrender,’ they shouted from inside the house, Shoeb said.
Another local resident, Chhayef Khan, ward Awami League general secretary, said that Moglabazar police station officer-in-charge Khayrul Kabir made a call over his cell phone at about 1:30pm and requested him to come out of home as they were preparing to launch an operation in the area.
‘The police after conducting a search in the area identified the Atia Mahal as a hideout of the suspected extremists,’ Chhayef said.
He said that the power supply to the area had also been disconnection.
When contacted over cell phone Swapan, a resident of the building confined to his apartment, said that the law enforcers locked the door of a unit on the ground floor so that the suspected extremists could not take the residents of other apartment hostage.
Jakiganj police station sub-inspector Muhibur Rahman said in the afternoon that his family had been living at an apartment on first floor of the building for the past one year.
‘My wife along with two children is passing time in uncertainty in the house. They did not take any food until afternoon as they got frightened,’ he said.
Building owner Ustar Ali, a retired customs department employee, said in the morning that one Kawsar Ahmad introducing himself as an audit officer of PRAN-RFL Company rented the apartment in January.
‘Kawsar introduced a young woman Marzina as his wife,’ Ustar added.
Metropolitan police additional deputy commissioner Zedan Al Mussa said in the evening that they got response till noon from inside the house when they asked the suspected extremists to surrender. ‘But, they did not response after then,’ Zedan said.
Some 70 residents of another 4-storey building of the twin structure were evacuated to a nearby school house in the morning. And none of the residents would be allowed to go back their apartment before the conclusion of the joint operation, police Zedan said.
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