Security forces in Bangladesh have killed at least 11 suspected members of an armed group blamed for a deadly attack on a cafe in the capital Dhaka three months ago.
The alleged members of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) died on Saturday in three separate raids on hideouts in the Dhaka suburb of Gazipur and the central district of Tangail, according to Asaduzzaman Khan, Bangladesh’s home minister.
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The raids came after police were tipped off about the location of the JMB’s Dhaka unit chief and his associates, Khan said.
“We requested them to surrender, but they opened fire at our officers instead and also exploded grenades, which prompted them to retaliate,” he said.
“The dead militants include JMB’s Dhaka military commander Akash, which is his organisational name. We are trying to find out his real identity.”
Al Jazeera’s Maher Sattar, reporting from Dhaka, said: “There are some question marks about how police are going around identifying people who they consider to be suspects. There are worries that innocent people might also be dragged into this.”
Some firearms, bullets and meat cleavers were found during the raids, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion, which was involved in the operations.
Two members of the battalion were injured during the gun battle, Mohiuddin Faruqe, local RAB chief, told AFP news agency.
Banned in 2005, the JMB was blamed for the July 1 attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic quarter, in which 20 civilians – mostly foreign nationals – were killed.
Two security personnel and six attackers were also killed in the incident when army commandos stormed the cafe to rescue hostages.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which posted online photos of the carnage as it happened and pictures of the attackers holding ISIL flags.
However, the Bangladesh government has consistently denied the presence in the country of ISIL, also known as ISIS, or al-Qaeda.
Since the cafe attack, police have killed at least 14 suspected fighters, including a Bangladeshi-born Canadian man, in counterterrorism operations.