Security forces in Bangladesh have reportedly killed three militants, including the suspected mastermind behind July's deadly Dhaka café attack. The Dhaka siege was one of the nation's worst-ever terror attacks.
A police raid in Bangladesh on Saturday killed three suspected Islamic extremists, including one suspect believed to have planned two deadly attacks, security forces reported.
"Tamim Chowdhury is dead. He is the Gulshan attack mastermind and the leader of JMB (Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a domestic militant group)," senior police officer Sanwar Hossain told media on Saturday.
Chowdhury, a Bagladeshi-born Canadian, is believed to be one of two masterminds behind the July 1 attack on a Dhaka café. The attack in the upscale Gulshan area of Dhaka killed 20 people, including 17 foreign nationals.
He was also reportedly behind another attack during the Eid festival at the end of Ramadan on July 7, which left four people dead, including two police officers.
Police carried out Saturday's raid on a two-story house in the Narayanganj district outside of Dhaka after receiving a tip on Chowdhury's whereabouts. Authorities say the militants were fatally shot after refusing to surrender during the operation.
The head of Bangladesh's counter terrorism unit, Monirul Islam, said that an AK-22 rifle, three live grenades and two pistols were found in the hideout at the end of the operation.
The militant group calling itself "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for the Dhaka cafe attack, even releasing pictures from inside the bakery during the siege. In April, IS identified Chowdhury as its national commander in Bangladesh, analysts have said.
However, the government in Bangladesh has rejected the group's claim of responsibility, saying international Islamic extremist networks do not have a foothold in the Muslim-majority country.
Authorities have continued to say the terror attacks were the work of domestic militants, such as the JMB. Critics have accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's administration of attempting to exploit the attacks in order to target domestic opponents.
For the last three years, Bangladesh has been reeling from a spate of extremist attacks which have targeted gay rights activists, religious minorities, foreigners and secular writers.
rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)