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Three alleged criminals were killed in a gunfight with members of the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) at Meradia in the city's Khilgaon area early yesterday.

The dead were identified as Sohel alias 'Bhombal' Sohel, 35, of East Goran, Monir Hossain alias 'Baka' Babu, 22, of East Rampura, and Sukkur Ali, 30, of South Goran.

Rab-3 officials said one of their patrol teams chased the three following their suspicious movements when they were passing through Balurmath near Meradia Bazar by a private car at around 1:45am.

Sensing danger, the criminals fired several rounds of bullet on the law enforcers, forcing them to retaliate.

Rab sources said Sohel, Babu and Sukkur received bullets during the gunfight and died instantly while two other members of the gang managed to flee. Both sides traded at least 40 bullets during the clash, they added.

Rab members and a patrol team of Khilgaon Police Station sent the bodies to Dhaka Medical College morgue for autopsy.

They recovered three firearms and 10 cocktails from the scene and seized the private car.

Babu's father Moklesur Rahman alleged that Rab personnel picked up his son and his two friends--Kalu and Belal--from a restaurant at East Rampura on May 14.

“Though my son is found dead, Kalu and Belal still remain missing,” Moklesur Rahman said.

Family members of two other deceased--Sukkur and Sohel--said Rab members arrested the two on Saturday night.

Family members said Sohel and his friend Babu had been carrying out criminal activities for last several years and they did not maintain any relationship with Sohel. They, however, claimed that Sukkur was not a criminal. He was the driver of Sohel's car.

Talking to The Daily Star, Commanding officer of Rab-3, Sultan Mohammad Nurani denied the claim of earlier arrest of the three. He said, “There are some witnesses to the gunfight.”

He said two of the gang managed to flee during the gunfight.

Khilgaon police said Sohel, Babu and Sukkur were wanted in four cases--killings, arms, explosives and drugs--filed by Rab.

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