Bangladeshi security forces say they stormed a hideout on Saturday and shot dead three suspected militants believed to have masterminded last month's attack on a café in Dhaka.
The three suspects were holed up in a house on the capital's outskirts, the head of Dhaka police's counterterrorism unit told Reuters. They refused to surrender to police, and a gunbattle ensued.
"We can see three dead bodies here," senior police officer Sanwar Hossain told AFP. "Tamim Chowdhury is dead. He is the Gulshan attack mastermind and the leader of JMB," using an acronym for Jamaaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, a domestic terror outfit.
On July 1, five militants entered a bakery in Gulshan Tana — an affluent area of Dhaka where many of the embassies are — loaded up with machetes, firearms and crude bombs, and took dozens of hostages. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the militants targeted non-Muslims and foreigners, including Italians, Japanese, an American, and an Indian.
All five attackers were killed during the police rescue operation.
IS have claimed a number of attacks over the last year, including the brutal murders of Hindu priests, atheist bloggers, and LGBT activists. The Bangladeshi government, however, rejects such claims and contends that the militant group has no domestic presence. Bangladesh authorities did acknowledge that JMB — the sprawling terror network that has pledged allegiance to IS — was likely behind the café attack.
Two men who were hostages in the cafe attack remain in police custody. The men, University of Toronto student Tahmid Khan, a Bangladeshi citizen and Canadian permanent resident, and Hasnat Karim, a British-Bangladeshi citizen, have been detained since July 1. Karim had just arrived to Dhaka that morning to see his family as he traveled from Canada for an internship with UNICEF in Nepal. Karim was at the cafe with his family, celebrating his daughter's 13th birthday.
The families of both men, and other hostages who were released, say the attackers forced the men to carry weapons.
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