NEW DELHI (AP) — Police raided a den of suspected Islamic militants in Bangladesh's capital Tuesday, killing nine men and seizing explosives, revolvers and black flags, police said.
Authorities were investigating the men's ties but evidence showed they likely were from the banned local group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, said A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque, Bangladesh's police chief. JMB is blamed for the July 1 attack on a restaurant in Dhaka's Gulshan diplomatic area in which 20 people, including Italians and Japanese, were killed by armed gunmen.
"It will take a few hours to have a clear idea, but we have found them clad in black dress ... suggesting they belong to the same group involved in the attack in Gulshan," Hoque said.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the restaurant siege and previous attacks on atheist bloggers, foreigners and minority groups, but authorities have insisted the group does not have a presence in Bangladesh. Instead, the government has blamed local militant groups, including the JMB.
After police raided the five-story building in Dhaka's Kalyanpur area Tuesday, the suspects attempted to flee by shooting their way out, but police shot them as they emerged, Hoque said.
One suspect was arrested, the police chief said. The suspect was being treated at a hospital for bullet wounds.
Asaduzzaman Mia, Dhaka's police commissioner, said at a news briefing that police recovered grenades, revolvers, explosives, knives and two black flags in the raid.
He said evidence suggested that the suspects belonged to the same group as the restaurant attackers. "We have yet to confirm the identities of the people killed today. Our team is working," Mia said.
He said one policeman was slightly injured in the raid, and that the suspects who were killed were 20 to 25 years old.
A resident of the building who identified himself by one name, Anik, told The Associated Press by phone that residents first heard gunshots after midnight and took cover by lying on the floor of the fifth floor of the building. The suspects lived on the fourth floor.
"We heard 'Allahu akbar' coming from the fourth floor as the firing began," he said, using the Arabic phrase for "God is great."
"It was a terrible situation," he said.
The suspects had rented the apartment very recently, said Mizanur Rahman, a police sub-inspector in the area.