Security forces in Bangladesh killed 11 suspected members of an Islamist militant group in an ongoing crackdown against extremism in the country.
On Saturday, Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the suspects were members of the banned group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB), blamed for an attack on a cafe in the capital Dhaka in July. Twenty-two died in the attack, including 17 foreigners.
Acting on tips, security forces raided suspected hideouts in the Gazipur suburb just outside Dhaka early Saturday morning.
"We requested them to surrender but they opened fire at our officers, which prompted them to retaliate," Khan said, adding that forces “seized money from these extremists that they got through robbery.”
Firearms, meat cleavers found
Firearms, bullets and meat cleavers were found during the raids, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion involved in Saturday’s operations.
Police have killed more than 35 suspected militants in shootouts since the cafe massacre, including its presumed mastermind, 30-year-old Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the cafe attack, but authorities have denied that, saying it was a JMB plot, and that IS has no presence in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
Long dormant after its top leaders were executed in March 2007, the JMB has recently regrouped with young, university-educated extremists taking the leadership.