DHAKA: Nine militants who were believed to have been plotting an attack similar to the one on a cafe on July 1 in which 22 people were killed by the Bangladesh Police on Tuesday, the national police chief said.
Police said the militants were holed up in a building in Kalyanpur on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, and they opened fire on officers as they tried to enter.
The militants, who shouted Allahu Akbar, or “God is greatest” as they battled police, were believed to be members of the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned group that has pledged allegiance to the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
“They were wearing black outfits, turbans and had backpacks … similar to the outfits the attackers in the cafe had,” police chief Shahidul Hoque told reporters at the scene after the militants were killed.
One wounded militant was captured, he said.
“They were plotting a major attack in the capital like that in the restaurant,” he said.
IS claimed responsibility for the cafe attack but the government has dismissed suggestions that IS has a presence in Bangladesh.
Police said JMB was behind the attack by five young Bangladeshis on the upmarket cafe. Most of the 22 people killed there were foreigners and the five attackers were also killed.
Hoque said the militants killed on Tuesday were believed to have been a JMB cell.
“The militant who was detained claimed they were IS members but we think they’re JMB,” he said.
Mostly Muslim Bangladesh has faced a series of attacks on liberal bloggers, academics and members of religious minorities over the past year.
While authorities have blamed the violence on domestic militants, security experts say the scale and sophistication of the assault on the cafe suggested links to a trans-national network.
IS has warned that violence would continue until Islamic law was established worldwide, saying in a video the Dhaka cafe attack was just a glimpse of what was to come.