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Operation ‘Assault 16’ on Sitakunda terror den: 24 rescued

4 militants, 1 kid killed

photo by NN Photo

Four suspected militants and one kid were killed during special joint forces\' raid on a militant den at Premtala in Sitakunda upazila of Chittagong on Thursday morning. About 24 residents being trapped inside near the den were rescued (inset top).

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Staff Reporter :
At least four suspected militants, including a woman, were killed in an overnight raid titled 'Assault 16' by special joint forces at a house at Premtala in Sitakunda upazila on the outskirts of Port City Chittagong on Thursday morning.
Besides, the body of a child was recovered from the house in the evening.
However, the identity of the militants and the kid could not be known immediately.
The dead militants were presumed to be operatives of Neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh. Of the four, two were killed in suicide bomb explosions, two other killed during shootout between the members of law enforcers and suspected militants.
Four members of law enforcement agencies also received serious injuries during the raid that began at 6:10am on Thursday and continued till 10:00am. Two of the injured cops have been admitted to Combined Military Hospital of Chittagong.
A joint team comprising Counter Terrorism Unit and Special Weapon and Tactic Team from capital Dhaka, Rapid Action Battalion, and Chittagong district police cordoned off the two-storey building, Chhaya Neer in Premtala area of Sitakunda since 3:00pm on Wednesday.
Later on Thursday morning, the joint forces launched the operation titled 'Assault -16' there to track down the militants.
After ending an overnight standoff, Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, Deputy Inspector General, Chittagong Range, told journalists on the spot that two militants were killed in suicide bomb explosions and two other killed in police firing during the encounter.
 "Two suicide vests which they wore exploded and killing them on the spot. And the two other, including a woman, were killed in police firing. The encounter began after a night-long police siege to the hideout of the neo-JMB," he said. "The fire was returned by the joint forces and in the ensuing gunfight, which continued for more than three hours, four militants were killed," he said, adding security forces also suffered injuries.
Talking to journalists, Reazaul Masud said the encounter began after a night-long police siege to the hideout of the neo-JMB, which launched the deadly July 1, 2016 attack on a Dhaka Holey Artisan Cafe, killing 22 people, including 17 foreigners.
 "The suspected militants hurled grenades and powerful bombs targeting the law enforcers as police opened fire at 6:20 am," he said.  
Abdul Mannan, Deputy Commissioner, Counter Terrorism Unit, said some 24 residents of the house in the area including female and children of seven families, were virtually trapped inside as the operation was underway but they came out of the building as the encounter ended.
Earlier, police cordoned 'Chhaya Nir" after arresting a couple and their son with arms and explosives from another Neo-JMB hideout' at the neighbourhood on Wednesday evening.
Agency adds; Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque on Thursday said the law enforcers came to know about more militant dens in Sitakunda from Hasan and Jasim - two militants arrested in Chandina upazila of Comilla.
Following their information, a team of Sitakunda police raided a house at Madhyam Mahadebpur village in Sitakunda on Wednesday afternoon, said Mahabubur Rahman, assistant superintendent of police (Mirsarai circle).
The law enforcers arrested an alleged militant couple --Jashim and his wife Arjina - along with their two-month-old baby from the house and recovered a number of grenades, bombs and firearms from the house.
Following information gleaned from the couple, the same team raided the militant den at Premtala on Wednesday afternoon.
When police tried to enter the house, suspected militants hurled hand grenades at them, leaving two policemen, including officer-in-charge of Sitakunda Police Station Mozammel, injured.
Later, a joint team of SWAT and district police made another attempt around 8:00pm to enter the house. However, the militants charged hand grenades again.
Finally, the special CTTC team ended the standoff through the final assault early Thursday.
The IGP said before launching the operation, the law enforcers asked the militants to surrender but they responded to the call hurling grenades at them.

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