Police launch assaults on 2 militant dens in Moulvibazar

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MOULVIBAZAR : Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit today launched simultaneous assaults on two militant dens in Moulvibazar and kept under siege another in Comilla two days after the country saw end of a bloody anti-terrorist military crackdown.

“Our SWAT team launched the assaults codenamed ‘Operation Hit Back’ on both their hideouts” district police’s assistant superintendent Roshunuzzaman Siddiqqui told newsmen without any immediate elaboration.

His comments came nearly 24 hours after the sieges were enforced to the dens, one in Moulvibazar town and the other on its outskirts.

Onlookers were kept away from the scene for security reasons but residents and witnesses in the neighbourhood reported powerful explosions to have rocked the area at Nasirnagar village on the outskirts of Moulvibazar as the SWAT operation was underway.

Senior police officials, meanwhile, said in Dhaka that they preferred to wait until tomorrow to launch the assault on the third militant den in Comilla as the district town was witnessing mayoral elections today.

“In consultation with the election commission, we have decided to keep under siege the Kotbari hideout on the outskirts of the town for today ahead of launching the expected assault, so the polling process was not disturbed in any way,” a police headquarters spokesman said.

Six people, two being police officers, were killed in militants retaliation outside the den ahead of deaths of all their four fellow militants, holed up inside, in the commandos assault in Sylhet during a five-day security siege which ended on March 28 after army commandos wrapped up their “Operation Twilight”.

Police suspected one of the militants to be Musa, new chief of Neo-JMB which carried out the deadly July 1, 2016 attack on a Dhaka cafe leaving 22 dead, 17 being foreigners.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday told newsmen that four to five militants were presumed to be inside the hideout tracked down in Moulvibazar town but at least eight were suspected to be holed up with huge explosives in their second den in the nearby village.

“Our plan to is to evade casualties, if required army will be called out afresh,” Kamal said after the reports of Moulvibazar siege broke.

A police officer told newsmen they suspected the militants lived in both the buildings in Moulvibazar as tenants with a Bangladeshi-origin British national being the owner of the both.

Authorities enforced a strict ban on onlookers’ entrance within the vicinity of the dens to evade casualties.

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