DHAKA: Bangladesh police on Saturday said they have killed the mastermind of last month's terror attack on a Dhaka cafe and two other militants during a raid on a house outside the Bangladeshi capital.
Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi-Canadian citizen with alleged Islamic State links, was killed in the morning raid on a three-storied house in Paikpara Baro Masjid area of Narayanganj, outside Dhaka.
Inspector General of police, A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque, and counter-terrorism unit chief Monirul Islam confirmed the death of Tamim Chowdhury after the raid, codenamed 'Operation Hit Strong 27'.
A joint team of security forces, including counter-terrorim forces and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), had cordoned off the building around 9.36 a.m. and the operation lasted an hour.
According to police officials, a team of counter terrorism and transnational unit conducted the drive in plainclothes.
There was heavy exchange of gunfire and the militants also lobbed some grenades at the security forces. After the operation, police entered the house and found three bodies inside the house, the police said.
The raid was carried out on information extracted from one of those arrested following the the July 1 attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan area, police sources said.
The IGP said law enforcers had given the militants scope to surrender but they did not take it, and instead opened fire and hurled grenades.
Police confirmed the identity of one of the three dead as Tamim after matching photos, the IGP said.
The other two militants killed in Saturday's raid were identified as Manik, 35, and Iqbal 25.
Tamim, who was believed to be the local coordinator for Islamic State (IS) in Bangladesh was a high-ranking member of the local militant group called the "New Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)".
According to investigators, he had accompanied the five Holey Artisan Bakery attackers from their Bashundhara flat to Gulshan, Dhaka, and left the area after bidding them farewell just before the café siege began on July 1, the Daily Star reported.
The five militants, carrying weapons including semi-automatic rifles, grenades and machetes, held diners hostage at the upscale eatery in the diplomatic zone.
The militants killed 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, and two policemen in the worst-ever terror incident in Bangladesh. The gunmen were killed in a commando drive the next morning, codenamed “Operation Thunderbolt”.
Besides his involvement in the Sholakia terror attack on July 7, in which four people were killed in a machete attack, Tamim is also believed have been mentor of the group of nine militants, killed in a police operation at Kalyanpur on July 26.
He used to frequent their flat in Kalyanpur and have meetings with them, give motivational speeches and guide them on planning militant attacks, according to the statement of a case filed following the police operation named “Storm 26”, the Daily Star said.
Police had announced 2 million Bangladeshi Taka reward earlier this month for information leading to Tamim's arrest.
Tamim's name came up on the list of 10 missing people released by police after it emerged that the cafe killers and Sholakia attackers had been reported missing by their families.
Tamim lived in Windsor, Canada from where he returned to Bangladesh on October 5, 2013.
He was accused of being a recruiter for the banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) an outfit believed to be behind the spate of killings that started two years ago.