Bangladesh police kill 3, including Canadian suspect in Dhaka attack
NEW DELHI — Police in Bangladesh killed three suspected militants Saturday, including a man they identified as a Canadian accused of masterminding a deadly attack on a cafe in Dhaka last month.
Top counterterrorism official Monirul Islam said police raided a two-story house near Dhaka and killed the suspects early Saturday.
The dead included Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi-born Canadian, who police allege was one of two masterminds of the July 1 attack on a popular restaurant in Dhaka that left 20 people dead.
The militants belonged to the banned group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, or JMB, Bangladesh’s police chief A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque told reporters.
Chowdhury was the mastermind of the July 1 attack and another attack on an Eid congregation outside Dhaka on July 7 marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, he said.
Bangladesh police have been conducting raids across the country to hunt down those behind the attacks.
The police chief said security officials raided the house acting on a tip that Chowdhury, along with other suspects, was hiding in the building. The suspects opened fire at officials who retaliated, he said.
A SWAT team made the final push and fatally shot the suspects after they failed to surrender. Haque said the team asked them to give themselves up but they went on firing.
The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the restaurant attack, but authorities have denied that all along, saying it was the act of the JMB and that ISIL has no presence in the Muslim-majority country.
Amarnath Amarasingam, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo who studies radicalization and terrorism, said few details are known about Chowdhury, but he previously lived in Windsor, Ont. A University of Windsor convocation record shows a student with the same name graduated from the school with an honours chemistry degree in 2011.
Amarasingam said in an email that there isn’t much evidence available about Chowdhury’s role in the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, but he seemed to be involved in expanding the group’s network.
“I think he had a unique roll as head of ISIS in Bangladesh and perhaps to launch operations around South Asia as well. Seems to be that he was appointed or got approval to work on behalf of ISIS,” he said.
“I don’t think he will be easily replaced. It was a fledging group which got snuffed out pretty quickly.”
The attack on the upscale Holey Artisan Bakery killed 20 people, including 17 foreigners. The July 7 attack on the prayer gathering north of Dhaka left four people dead, including two police officers.
The Canadian government said Saturday it was aware of news reports that Chowdhury was killed in Bangladesh and was trying to get more information from Bangladeshi authorities.
The Bangladeshi investigation into the attack involves another connection to Canada. Police arrested Tahmid Hasib Khan, a University of Toronto student earlier this month. His family said Khan, 22, has been moved to a prison. They have steadfastly maintained his innocence.
Khan was with friends at the bakery when five gunmen attacked. Security forces stormed the eatery on July 2, killing the gunmen and rescuing the remaining hostages.
With files from The Canadian Press
By The Associated Press