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Mirpur stakeout turns deadly amid bombs, bullets
Dhaka, Special Report:
The suspected militants holed up in a hideout at Mirpur’s Mazar Road failed to surrender before law enforcers within a stipulated time in the evening on Tuesday, and then commenced a daring counterattack of bomb explosions and gunfire against the law enforcers.
Mufti Mahmud Khan, Rab Director (Legal and Media), said the militants carried out three massive explosions inside the building around 9:45pm followed by three more blasts which led to a fire, leaving four Rab men injured with splinters.
“It might be chemical firing,” he said, adding that casualties could be known after entering the building once the fire is doused.
Meanwhile, sources at the Fire Service central control room said firefighters brought the fire under control.
Col Anwar Latif Khan, Additional Director General (Ops) of Rab Headquarters, told UNB that the militants might have killed themselves detonating bombs which went off inside the militant den.
Witnesses said the sounds of least 5-6 explosions were heard from the den around 9:45pm followed by gunfire. The sounds of exchanging gunshots were heard after the explosions.
Earlier, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) said the militants agreed to surrender in the evening.
“Suspected militant Abdullah agreed to surrender along with his two wives, two children and two associates between 7:30 pm and 8pm today,” Mufti Mahmud told a press conference in front of the building in the evening.
He said they earlier asked Abdullah to surrender when he sought time for taking the decision. “We gave him time. Few minutes before the dusk fell, he informed us that he’ll surrender along with his family members and associates,” he said.
As per his commitment, Abdullah sent his wives and children to the balcony, Mufti added.
As part of the security arrangement, the law enforcers have already evacuated all the residents from the building and adjacent ones, he said. “We hope Abdullah will surrender as per his commitment. If he tries to take any other steps without surrender, we’re ready to prevent him,” the Rab official said.
Earlier, Abdullah’s mentally challenged sister Meherunnesa came out of the house.
Rab members cordoned off the house around 12 am suspecting it as a militant hideout.
Tipped off, a Rab team cordoned off the six-storey building on the south side of Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard, said Assistant Superintendent of Police Unu Mong, also operation officer of Rab-4.
Locals said they heard the sounds of bomb explosions and gunfight from the house.
Mufti Mahmud Khan said Abdullah, a suspected militant, is staying on the 4th floor of the building.
Earlier, police arrested two suspected militants conducting a drive in Tangail district. The arrested militants gave information about Abdullah, said the Rab official.
Locals also said that the building owned by Habibullah Bahar Azad has five flats on its each floor. The homeowner had been living on the 2nd floor.
In a press briefing, Rab Director General Benazir Ahmed said militant Abdullah got involved in militancy in 2005 and he had been carrying out his activities under the cover of his business of IPS, UPS, fridges and refrigerators. He deposited huge acid, petroleum and explosives, said the Rab DG.
Benazir Ahmed said Rab members are trying to communicate with Abdullah, who is possessing improvised explosive device (IED), from 4 am. His two wives, two children and two associates are also staying with him.
“We’re also trying to arrest Abdullah along with his family members without any causality. We’ve requested him several times to surrender. He sought time for taking decision,” added Rab DG.
Besides, Intelligence sources said Abdullah’s two children were Omar, 10 and two and half-year-old Osama.
Saqlain Russell, a presenter of a private TV channel My TV and a resident of the area, wrote on his Facebook account, “We [first] thought it was a transformer blast. But now it looks like it’s a bomb explosion. Our room soon got full of smoke while the glasses of the building adjacent to us have been shattered. Rab and police [members] have cordoned the area off. We’ve taken shelter between the flats in fear of a possible drive by law enforcers. We’re suspecting that something is happening in the next building. We’ve heard gunshots every now and then.”