2 militants killed in Bangladesh raid; death toll now 8

AP News
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Posted: Mar 26, 2017 8:17 AM
2 militants killed in Bangladesh raid; death toll now 8

NEW DELHI (AP) — Two suspected militants were killed Sunday in an ongoing military raid on a building where armed militants were holed up in eastern Bangladesh, police and army officials said. Six people, including two policemen, were killed in explosions near that building a day earlier.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Fakhrul Ahsan told reporters that the government operations were not yet over and that one or more militants were still inside the building Sunday evening. Army and paramilitary troops have been trying since Friday to flush out Islamist radicals who have holed up in a building in the city of Sylhet with a large cache of ammunition.

The six people killed Saturday died after a series of explosions took place on a road near an Islamic religious school and close to the building under siege. At least 25 people have been wounded in the attacks and 78 civilians have been rescued from the building after troops broke a section of the compound wall where the building is located.

Several explosions have occurred in the area, including a large blast Sunday afternoon. Police have barred civilians, including journalists, from the area.

The gunbattle with suspected militants comes after a man killed himself on Friday by detonating explosives near a police post on a busy road near the airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. No one else was hurt.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Sylhet and Dhaka, according to the SITE Intelligence group, citing the Islamic State news agency Amaq. SITE monitors terror group activity online.

The blast near the airport was the second suicide attack in a week in the Dhaka area. On March 17, a suspected bomber died in a blast near barracks of the elite Rapid Action Battalion anti-terror police force.

Bangladesh has experienced a renewed level of Islamic militancy in recent years. Dozens of atheists, liberal writers, bloggers and publishers, as well as members of minority communities and foreigners, have been targeted and killed.

Last July, 17 foreigners were killed when five militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka's upscale diplomatic zone.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, but Bangladesh's government has consistently denied the presence of the militant group in the impoverished South Asian nation, and says the attacks are the work of local radical groups.