An extremist accused of being one of the masterminds of last year’s deadly siege at a Bangladeshi cafe was shot dead during a pre-dawn raid in Dhaka yesterday, police said.
The bodies of Nurul Islam Marzan and another suspected extremist were found after officers raided a property in the capital’s Rayer Bazar neighborhood, a spokesman for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police told reporters.
“We found two bodies. One of them was Marzan and another was a suspected extremist,” additional deputy commissioner Yusuf Ali told reporters.
Ali said that Marzan, who was aged about 30, was “one of the masterminds” of the siege at the upmarket Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1 last year in which 18 foreign hostages were shot or hacked to death.
Mohibul Islam Khan, the deputy chief of Dhaka police’s counterterrorism and transnational crime unit, told reporters that Marzan was shot dead during the raid by the anti-terrorism police.
Khan said Marzan was an Arabic student at Chittagong University before he dropped out and joined an offshoot of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a homegrown extremist group which has been blamed for the cafe attack.
“Along with Tamim [Ahmed Chowdhury], Marzan planned the Gulshan attack,” he said, referring to the Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi descent who police described as the main mastermind of the attack.
Chowdhury was killed in another raid outside the capital in August last year.
Police intelligence had found that Marzan organized the cafe siege and was its operational commander, Khan said.
The Islamic State (IS) organization claimed responsibility for the cafe attack, posting images of the carnage as it happened and photographs of the gunmen who had posed with the IS’ black flag.
Bangladesh is reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, rights advocates and members of religious minorities.
While many of those attacks have been claimed by the IS or al-Qaeda, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular government has blamed local militants, denying that international extremists have gained a foothold in Bangladesh.
The country’s security forces launched a deadly crackdown against extremists following the cafe siege, which badly undermined Bangladesh’s reputation as a relatively moderate Muslim nation.
Since the cafe attack, security forces have shot about 50 extremists, including most of the alleged kingpins of JMB.
Critics say Hasina’s administration is in denial about the nature of the threat posed by the extremists and accuse her of trying to exploit the attacks to demonize her domestic opponents.
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