At least two people allegedly linked to an extremist group were killed on Monday due to an explosion and firings during an overnight raid by Rapid Action Battalion at a tin-shed structure in close proximity of the RAB camp at the periphery of the capital’s Basila.
The identities of the suspected extremist and their group could not be confirmed but the RAB officials said the landlord and caretaker identified them as Sujon and Sumon as they rented out the makeshift facilities to the duo from first of April at Tk 1,500 per month.
RAB 2 company commander Muhammed Mohiuddin Faruqe said they found two 7.65mm handguns and a grenade from the wreckage following the explosion.
The incident took place at the two rooms attached to a recently-declared Al Wahab Jamm’a Mosque and Hafezi Madrassa situated beside a canal in an under-construction Metro Housing plot in Basila, after 3:00am and continued for few hours.
The unkempt structure of the house cum mosque was built using low brick walls on three sides, corrugated tin on roof and bamboo wall on its façade, which was reduced to rubble after the explosion.
The battalion officials said they detained the landlord Abdul Wahab, its caretaker and employee Shohag and his wife Moushumi Akhter and the imam of the newly-built mosque Muhammad Yusuf.
The place is located right behind the Rayaerbazar Martyred Intellectual Memorial, a two-minute ride on a motorbike from the RAB company headquarters and three minutes from Special Security and Protection Battalion office in Basila.
RAB director general Benazir Ahmed told reporters on the spot that the operation was carried out overnight based on ‘precise information’ that gathered during their routine surveillance.
He said that they received information that a few people had taken shelter in the area and added that during the raid, ‘the RAB personnel faced firing’.
‘We fired about 150 bullets and they also opened fire,’ said the RAB chief and added that the suspected terrorists had a few improvised explosive devices on them.
RAB chief said at one point the suspects exploded the bombs causing the house to collapse. Their bodies were seen scattered all over the spot, he added.
Benazir said they were ‘hatching a conspiracy’ but they ‘were in our grip, so we could easily catch them’.
One of the officials who took part in the operation told New Age that they went to the house attached to the mosque and knocked at one of the two bamboo-made doors and no one responded.
The official said after they knocked for the second time on another door, Moushumi responded and awakened her husband Shohag.
‘We heard a hum of zikr coming from inside and we could make out Lailala Illallah when suddenly there was a gunshot from inside the house and we quickly brought Moushumi, Shohag and their children out of the facility and went for action,’ said the official.
The official, however, did not disclose what happened afterward before the explosion took place.
A damaged refrigerator and gas cylinder, among others, were seen in the wreckage, which was examined by the crime scene unit of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Locals told New Age that they were alerted at 3:00am and it was only after they were evacuated that they heard ‘dozens of gunshots’. Later in the morning, the witnesses said that they saw smoke coming out of the house.
At 10:45am in the morning, the witnesses saw fire coming out of the house and the Fire Service and Civil Defence was called around 11:00am.
The fire service officials said, on information, they went to the spot but could not enter the house due to lack of gears needed to handle explosives.
Naeem Shikder, a mason who lives at a two-storey building adjacent to the spot, said on that night they were on the roof of their building due to scorching heat and a plainclothes man with the RAB personnel in uniform visited them and asked them to go inside their own houses.
He said, right after that, there were incessant sound of firings which they heard from a distance after they were asked to leave the place.
Naeem, along with his wife, was seen sitting outside the cordon of the battalion.
A community volunteer Maleka Begum, who lives not too far away from the site of explosion, told New Age that she was curious about the recently-declared mosque and went there a couple of days ago and found Moushumi in the house the victims rented.
‘I saw two men — one was chubby and bearded and another slim with sparse beard — were inside their room. I asked Moushumi about them and she barred me from going inside and said they were tenants,’ said Maleka.
She also bore witness to a scene day before yesterday, when she was standing in front of a tea-stall near their house when a man with his face covered in a red-and-white Arabic keffiyeh scarf was riding a motorbike with another man and was heading towards the house.
It was not confirmed whether the same person was killed in operation but the CID crime scene investigators found the
red-and-white Arabic keffiyeh scarf.
Another neighbour, Muhammad Zunaed, of a nearby house, said they were sleeping and the RAB personnel had woke them up at 4:00am and asked them to leave the place immediately.
‘We left the place and heard sound of firings,’ said Zunayed, who worked at a shop in Basila.
The North Dhaka City Corporation councillor 33 Tarekuzzaan Rajib said the place was still underdeveloped and many urban facilities were still missing despite the area was under the jurisdiction of the city corporation.
Mohammadpur police station officer-in-charge GG Biswash said around 8:15pm on Monday that no case was so far registered with his police station over the incident.
The bodies of the duo were sent to the Shaheed Sahruwardy Medical College Hospital later in the day.
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