Thu, Mar 30, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Grenade attack as Bangladeshi police raid militant hideout

AFP, DHAKA

Bangladeshi police came under grenade attack yesterday when they raided two suspected militant hideouts, days after a major anti-militant drive in which 10 people were killed.

Police said counterterrorism officers raided two houses in Moulvibazar District in the northeast after receiving a tip-off that militants were sheltering there.

A standoff ensued, with those inside the houses throwing grenades, local police chief Rashedul Islam said.

“In one of the houses, we suspect there are eight to nine of them,” he said, adding the houses were owned by a Bangladeshi-origin British citizen.

The raids came after army commandos stormed a five-story building in the nearby city of Sylhet, triggering a violent three-day standoff.

At least four extremists died and another six people, including two police officers, were killed when two bombs went off on Saturday near a crowd watching the operation.

The Islamic State group claimed the twin bomb attacks, but the government has rejected the claim, instead blaming a banned homegrown militant organization.

There has been a resurgence of extremist attacks in recent weeks in the Muslim-majority nation of 160 million after a relative lull since five Islamic State group-linked gunmen killed 22 people, including 18 foreign hostages, at a Dhaka cafe on July 1 last year.

The Islamic State group has also claimed at least two of three other incidents this month in which attackers blew themselves up at security checkpoints, including one targeting an elite security force tasked with tackling militancy.

Analysts say militants pose a growing danger in conservative Bangladesh, where a long-running political crisis has radicalized opponents of the government.

Bangladesh prides itself on being a mainly moderate Muslim country, but that perception has been damaged by a series of gruesome killings of atheist bloggers, foreigners and religious minorities.

Since the cafe attack, security forces have launched a nationwide crackdown on militant groups, killing about 60 suspected militants, including the founders of the banned Jamayetul Mujahidin Bangladesh group.

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