Two potentially connected militant hideouts were unearthed yesterday in Sitakunda, Chittagong. Police were able to arrest two militants after heroic locals managed to subdue them. The raid at the second location was at a stand-off as of 3am Thursday.
The DIG (Chittagong Range) Shafikul Islam said police were conducting a raid on a house called "Chhayaneer" in Premtola ward of Chowdhurypara, where at least three militants were hiding. Three families were trapped inside.
Around 3:30am, the DIG said SWAT and other law enforcement teams present on site were preparing to go in.
Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, Chittagong police captured two militants from the neighbouring ward of Namarbazar in Sitakunda.
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Police patrol the perimeter of the militant den Rabin Chowdhury/Dhaka Tribune
DIG Shafikul stated that the two incidents may be connected.
At 3:30pm yesterday afternoon, when police conducted a raid at Chhayaneer, police surrounded the house and demanded the surrender of the militants inside.
“Our force was able to contact three families who are trapped inside,” Shafikul said.
He added that the trapped families had confirmed seeing three people closing the doors and windows of the flat, soon after the police raid.
Alarmed at the sight of police, the militants lashed out with a grenade attack, Additional Police Superintendent (North) Moshiuddhowla Reza told the Dhaka Tribune.
Police confirmed that Sitakunda OC Mozammel and another officer had been injured by shrapnel.
The area had been cordoned off as sporadic gunfire was being exchanged with the militants.
Around 6pm, a SWAT team from Chittagong had been dispatched to deal with the situation. According to DIG Shafikul, another SWAT team from Dhaka, which had been dispatched by road, had arrived at the site at 12:47am.
The two SWAT teams were working on a plan of action for the safe extraction of the trapped families and the capture of the militants, DIG Shafikul added.
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Shadhon Kutir, the house where the militant couple took up residence with their infant child Rabin Chowdhury/Dhaka Tribune
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Arjina attempted to detonate her explosive belts while clutching on to her infant Dhaka Tribune
The Dhaka Tribune reached out to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, whose only comments were: “There is no point in going about in the dark when there are no clear targets. They [SWAT team] are experts in handling this kind of situations, let them handle it.”
Citizens against militancy
Around 3pm, at “Shadhon Kutir,” another house in Namarbazar in Sitakunda, landlord Subhash Chandra Das Suresh barged into his tenant's house with his sister and friend, Sunanda Bhattacharjya, demanding that the tenants vacate the premises.
The tenants, Jashim and Arjina, had arrived a few weeks earlier with a 4-month-old baby, claiming to be fabric traders. Over time, however, Subhash had grown suspicious of them and had asked for their national identification cards (NIDs). When he went to verify their NIDs on the NID database, he found that the cards had been forged.
At Subhash's outburst, Jashim moved to reach under his bed. He pulled out a bag, from which a handgun and rubber boots spilled out.
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Police block the street leading to the police hideout FM Mizanur Rahman/Dhaka Tribune
Subhash and Sunanda shouted out to raise the alarm among neighbours and attempted to take Jashim down before he could arm himself.
At that point, Arjina stepped into the room clad in a burqa with a suicide bombers' explosive belt wrapped around her chest.
Before the situation could escalate into yet another militant attack, Subhash's wife, Chobi Rani Das, rushed in and tackled Arjina.
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Police take up positions outside the militant hideout in Sitakunda Rabin Chowdhury/Dhaka Tribune
Neighbours then came in and helped to subdue the husband-wife militant duo.
Police arrested the militants and took custody of their infant. They were able to recover a handgun, two magazines, three grenades and explosive material from the house.
The police bomb disposal unit were able to defuse the three grenades.
The raid is still ongoing as of 2am Thursday.
More to follow...