Rab kills JMB bomber; his wife, 2 kids blown off |
Rahman's militant son captured wounded from Comilla hideout; huge explosives seized from 3 dens; 2 Rab men hurt
Julfikar Ali Manik and Shamim Ashraf
Bomb expert of banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) Shakil alias Mollah Omar died in Rab fire while three of his family members were killed in bomb explosions meant to resist the raid on their hideout in Comilla town yesterday.
The elite crime busters arrested JMB supremo Abdur Rahman's son Nabil Rahman and JMB cadre Alamgir alias Bijoy alias Shaikat 22, on the scene.
Shakil's wife Shahida, and two children Sayeed, 4 and Meem, one and half years old, died on impact.
Earlier the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) captured commander of Comilla district JMB Mustafizur Rahman alias Sohel, Ehsar [full-time activist] Abdus Samad Mintu, Khaleda Akhtar Rani, Kazem, 7, and Kaif 5, raiding two militant hideouts in the town.
The raids aiming mainly at netting JMB Majlish-e-Shura member Khaled Saifullah began in the early hours yesterday.
Saifullah, who was in charge of the militant outfit in Rangpur-Dinajpur region, had reportedly left the militant lair Sunday morning.
Although the Rab men failed to arrest him, they said they have seized a huge stockpile of explosives during the 20 hours long operation.
After the operation ended, the law enforcers found seven live bombs at Kaliajuri hideout, where the bomb expert and his family perished. Earlier huge explosives including live bombs and grenades were recovered from Bishnupur and 3kg gunpowder from another house near Thompson Bridge.
Over 200 members from Rab-5, Rab-7, Rab-10, the headquarters and intelligence wing took part in the raids. They were carrying out a follow-up operation till filing of this report at around midnight.
A Rab team from Dhaka went to Comilla town Sunday evening. At first, they marked a 1.5 by 1 kilometre area spread over Kaliajuri, Bishnupur and Judges Court premises.
After closing off the area, they pinpointed Rowshan Villa (house No. 60 in Bishnupur, Kotwali) on information that Khaled Saifullah was holed up there.
The Rab men raided the house at the crack of dawn yesterday and found a huge cache of explosives including three live bombs, grenades and detonator powder.
JMB operative Abdus Samad Mintu alias Rajib alias Ushaka and Rani with her two children were arrested in the house. The arrestees admitted that Saifullah and JMB cadre Salam had left the house early Sunday.
Acting on information obtained from Samad, another team raided a tin-roofed house near Thomson Bridge and arrested Comilla JMB commander Mustafizur Rahman with 3 kg gunpowder.
As the Rab men were leaving the Bishnupur house at around 9:30am, Samad disclosed that the militants had another hideout at Kaliajuri. By that time, members of Rab-7 had left for Chittagong while officials of Rab headquarters in Dhaka for the capital.
Only a small team of Rab-5 and police rushed to Kaliajuri and ringed a two-storey house named Jannatul Shafi at around 10:30am.
As the elite force knocked on the front door, no one responded. When the Rab men attempted to break in, someone from inside wanted to know why they would have to open the door.
"When we said we went there to make some arrests on specific information, one from within said they would not open the door and Rab will not be able to arrest them," a Rab officer who participated in the operation told The Daily Star.
The Rab men kept asking them to open the door and surrender. In reply, a voice said, "We'll blow up the house then."
Without exerting further pressure at this point, the Rab reinforced and strengthened the cordon.
They also tried to negotiate the surrender of the insiders. Speaking over a phone from an adjacent house, they told the militants that there would be no attack on them if they come out. In response, Mollah Omar alias Shakil who was on the receiving end asked the law enforcers to drop their weapons.
During the conversation, the Rab men learnt how many of them were hiding inside.
Shortly afterwards, the militants blasted a bomb through a window, injuring four of the Rab members.
The Rab and police lobbed tear gas canisters and fire-fighters shot water on the house to flush the insiders out.
Meantime, the Rab officials led by Director Intelligence Lt Col Gulzar Uddin Ahmed and Rab-7 team who earlier had left Comilla got back to the scene. The raiding team then opened fire on the house and continued firing water and teargas shells.
At this point, Alamgir came out and surrendered. Nabil, the JMB chief's eldest son, was already injured in the shooting.
At around 2:15pm, when he came near the doors, Rab men took him by the hand and brought him out. He received bullets in the hands and forehead, said a Rab official.
The ones in the house soon detonated another bomb, which, Rab claimed, killed Meem and Sayeed. No one was injured in the third explosion.
The Rab later made Nabil request Shakil to come out. "But it didn't work," said a Rab officer.
After the fourth blast, the Rab men trying to step into the house saw Shakil's wife Shahida sitting as her body was covered with clothes.
All of a sudden, a group of Rab high officials entered the house at around 2:30pm. But moments after they got out and asked the crowd of onlookers to leave the area at once.
After about 15 minutes, another powerful bomb went off inside the house, killing Shahida instantly, said a Rab official.
Following the bang, Rab officials got into the house again and found Shakil lying dead on the first floor with bullet injuries in his body.
His body was wired up to a detonator. He was wearing a yellow T-shirt and black trousers.
The house turned a mess with blood and debris strewn all over. Limbs of the two children were blown off while a hand and a leg of Shahida were severed from the body.
The furniture was reduced to ashes while the blasts tore down a wall on the ground floor.
The neighbouring houses were vacated soon after the operation commenced. Panic swept through the locals every time a bomb blew up.
A crowd still managed to gather near the scene. They were surprised to know about the militants hiding in their neighbourhood.
Immediately after the first blast, Rab men whisked off injured Deputy Assistant Director of Rab Masuduzzaman and Constable Golam Nabi to a safer place and later to Comilla Sadar Hospital.
After having Nabil treated at a local hospital, Lieutenant Commander Shahed and Major Faruk brought him to Dhaka in an ambulance.
He alongside the injured Rab members was admitted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH).
The Rab members disposed the recovered in a field nearby Jannatul Shafi. According to the explosives experts, the bombs were highly powerful and could have wreaked huge havoc, said a Rab officer.
Bomb expertise made him JMB's Mollah Omar|
The Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) started calling Shakil as Mollah Omar, the infamous deputy of Osama-bin-Laden, as he proved his expertise in bomb making.
Day of horror|
The house Jannatul Shafi or 'recommended for paradise' was turned into a hell on earth yesterday during an operation by Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) against militants of outlawed Jama'atul MujahideenBangladesh.
Give me AK47, I'll kill you all|
Nabil, the eldest son of outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) chief Abdur Rahman, became furious after his arrest in Comilla yesterday.
Operation started with 4 Rab men|
Only four Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) personnel started the Comilla operation in the evening of March 12 and were gradually reinforced to launch the raid at midnight.
JMB fighting law enforcers since 2003|
Islamist militants have so far clashed several times with law enforcers and even snatched their arms and ammunition, starting at Khetlal upazila in Joypurhat in 2003.
Comilla chosen as new JMB den this month|
Explosives expert of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) Shakil alias Mollah Omar moved to Kaliajuri in Comilla, considering it safe this month as the law enforcers paid less attention to the district