Dhaka, March 27: It was stated by Bangladesh’s military today that their operation to flush out Islamist militants from a five-storey building in Sylhet could last long as there still remain several more “well-trained operatives” inside the hideout.
According to PTI reports, Eight persons have lost their lives in the ‘Operation Twilight’ so far. Today was the fourth day of the military operation in this northwestern city which is about 236 km from the capital, Dhaka.
Witnesses have reported about experiencing explosions and sporadic gunfire today from the five-storey building in Sylhet, after a relative lull last night. ‘Operation Twilight’ was launched by the military to get rid of the militants from the hideout.
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According to the locals, burst of automatic weapons and explosions could be heard once again after 6 am. “We heard sporadic gunshots and explosions,” a resident in the northeastern city told media.
“There are several more well-trained operatives active inside the hideout,” Brigadier General Fakhrul Ahsan mentioned in conversation with reporters in Sylhet. He pointed out that the assault was far from over and hinted at “considerable risks” involved in it.
Ahsan added that the militants came prepared with small arms, explosives and grenades and managed to lay out booby traps at different corners of the building cooking up a situation that slowed down the progress of the military mission at the building. “The entire area has become risky. Considering the overall situation, it will take more time for the operation to complete,” he told the reporters.
The operation was launched after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the international airport in Dhaka in an attack on Friday night which was claimed by the ISIS. This incident came a week after a similar attack on a RAB camp in Dhaka.
On Saturday, two powerful bombs tore apart a crowd near the hideout, killing six people. Among the dead, two were police officers. The injured count is nearly 50, including two army officers who are currently serving the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
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Army stated that the two militants chose to blow themselves up detonating suicide vests after being shot by army commandos on ground floors of the building. According to their assumptions, more militants are still inside.
The Islamic State terror group’s presence in the country has been rejected by Bangladesh after the responsibility for Saturday’s retaliatory attack was claimed by the militant organization.
Meanwhile, residents who lived in the building where the operation is taking place said that the militants virtually pushed them in a hostage situation h by warning them of bombs implanted on their way out of the place.
The residents were brought out by the commandos from the top of the building who made their way there from the rooftop of an adjacent structure.
Banker Ranajit Das, a tenant of the house who was evacuated along with his five family members, said until commandos rescued them and evacuated the premises, militants’ warnings prevented them from coming out. “They (militants) said bombs were implanted downstairs which would blow us up if we try to leave,” he mentioned.
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The evacuation of the civilians was executed by the para-commandos from the top floor of the building placing roof to roof ladders from an adjacent building. They moved out residents from one floor after another until they reached the second floor stairwell, where they came across improvised explosive devices placed on the stairs.
Since 2013, Bangladesh has been the witness of a torrent of attacks on secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities. A massive crackdown on militants was launched by the country specially after the dreadful Dhaka cafe attack.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang