Five suspected extremists and a fire fighter were killed during a raid on a suspected den of extremists at bordering village of Godagari upazila in Rajshahi on Thursday while raids were conducted also in Natore and Chapainawabganj.
Rajshahi Fire Service and Civil Defence member Abdul Matin, also a resident of Matikata under Godagari upazila, was hacked to death by one of the suspects during the operation codenamed Sun Devil led by the police headquarters.
Of the five suspected extremists, two blew up themselves while it was not clear whether the rest three were shot dead or died from explosions, Godagari police station officer in-charge Hifzul Alam Munshi.
The deceased were identified as Sajjad Ali, 50, his wife Beli, 40, their sons Al Amin, 23, and Shoaeb, 20, and their daughter Karima, 28, said Hifzul.
Al Amin was a student of a madrassah in adjacent Chapainawabganj, he said.
Rajshahi range additional deputy inspector general of police Nisarul Arif, however, said Friday evening that Shoaeb was actually Ashraful Islam, an engineer.
The operation took place near a Sajjad Ali’s house made of corrugated iron sheet, wood and bamboo and surrounded by water bodies and crop lands at Benipur village.
Rajshahi range deputy inspector general of police Khurshid Hossain branded the suspects as the operatives of Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh.
An official at Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said that they were operatives of Islamic State-inspired JMB faction and investigators found their link following an operation at Shibganj upazila of Chapainawabganj in April.
The operation codenamed Eagle Hunt in Chapainawabganj in April 27-28
left four suspected extremists killed.
Filing of case in connection with Godagari raid was underway. The five bodies were sent to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital for most mortem examination.
Fire Service and Civil Defence instituted a five-member body to investigate how its member was killed and the committee was asked to submit its report in 15 working days.
A footage which went viral on social media showed that two women were running into huge smoke after an apparent blast and one of them was hacking someone.
The footage showed a number of police with their firearms taking safe position and one of them was seen firing at the suspects.
It showed suspected extremists continuing hacking a man and a number of gun shots were heard. It also showed a woman sitting far away with a minor.
The police later said they rescued Sajjad’s daughter-in-law Sumaiya, her children Jubayer, 8, and Suraiya, one year and a half, and kept them in police custody.
The operation Sun Devil began on marshy land Thursday morning ended Friday morning.
Police officials said that with the coordination from police headquarters’ lawful interception cell, they cordoned off the house of Sajjad at about 9:00am on Wednesday and asked the suspected extremists on early Thursday to surrender.
The extremists came out from their house and two of them exploded suicidal vests at the point of surrender, the officials said.
Godagari police officer in-charge Hifzul Alam Munshi said that the operation began at about 3:00am on Thursday and police repeatedly asked the suspects to surrender.
At about 8:00am on Thursday, the extremists came out and stabbed fire fighter Abdul Matin who was there to spray water on the house.
Abdul Matin was rushed to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries. He was buried at their family graveyard Thursday night.
In Friday morning, bomb disposal unit recovered 11 bombs, a pistol, 2 bullets and a magazine from the spot, said Rajshahi additional superintendent of police Sumit Chowdhury.
A crime scene unit of Criminal Investigative Department collected evidence from the spot.
Sajjad, a resident of the village and a clothe seller by profession, had been living at the house along with the family for two months, local people said, adding that the family used to live in isolation and rarely interacted with others for the two months. Sajjad’s two sons were seen farming.
Police officials believed that Sajjad was radicalised by his son-in-law Jahurul Islam.
Neighbour Abdul Bari said that Sajjad’s movements became suspicious about two years ago, when people used to come to his house from different parts of the district and beyond who were introduced as relatives of his son-in-law or relatives from Dhaka.
Godagari police officer-in-charge said that Jahurul was now in police custody.
‘We are still investigating about Sajjad. People said that he was involved in Jamaat [Jamaat-e-Islami] and his son-in-law Jahurul was a JMB member. We are trying to gather further details,’ he added.
In another development, a raid on suspected hideouts of extremists in Natore Sadar yielded nothing, police officers said.
Nobody was found inside the three-storied building in Harishpur area, said additional superintendent of district police Abul Khayer.
‘We conducted the raid under specific instruction, but it ended empty,’ he said.
Police also raided three houses at Kansat under Shibganj upazila of Chapainawabganj. Cops cordoned off the houses early Thursday and started search at about 7:00am.
New Age correspondent in Chapainawabganj reported that cops arrested seven suspected extremists linked to JMB and seized 4.5kg gunpowder, 52.5kg explosive gel and 22 books from the houses in drives in the past three days.
The arrested were Harun Or Rashid,25, Taifur Rahman and Kamal Uddin alias Sarkar,32, of Guthoil village, Nasim Reza alias Shahin,20, of Berachoki village and Md. Firoj, 22, of Shrirampur village under Nachole upazila, Mohammad Babu, 22, of Shibnagar-Kathapara and Azizul Haque,38, of Raghobpur village under Shibganj upazila and Abdul Hakim, 20, of Debingara-Fatapara village.
The district superintendent of police TM Mojahidul Islam said at a briefing at his office Friday afternoon that on information, a team of police on early Wednesday raided Harun Or Rashid’s house and arrested him with 22 Jihadi books.
Police also arrested Kamal, Nasim and Firoj at their houses Wednesday night and went to Matikata village under Godagari upazila in Rajshahi and cordoned a suspected den of extremists. Later, they handed over the suspected den to Rajshahi police, he said.
Then, police raided Babu’s house and recovered a drum under earth. They recovered 4.5kg gunpowder and 52.5kg explosive gel.
They also raided a house of Babu’s brother Jewel, but sensing presence of the law enforcers, Jewel fled the house and police arrested another JMB suspect Azizul at his Raghobpur house, Mojahidul said.
Police arrested Abdul Hakim at his Debingara-Fatapara village, but his brother Khairul Islam fled the house early Friday when police raided the house, he said.
At least 85 people mostly suspected extremists were either shot dead or committed suicide since police intensified its operation against suspected extremists across the country since July 1, 2016, when a group of youths attacked a Gulshan cafe that left 29 people, including 17 foreigners, two police officials and five suspected attackers, killed.
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