US citizen among the extremists killed in Bangladesh
28 July 2016 – A US national of Bangladesh origin was among nine suspected Islamist extremists killed in a massive gunfight in Dhaka, police said yesterday, as officers hunted a militant who fled the shoot-out.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masudur Rahman said that Shahzad Rouf was one of nine young men who were killed during Tuesday’s early morning raid on a militant hideout. “He was an American citizen. We confirmed his identity by checking finger prints,” he said.
He said six other dead extremists were also identified by police investigators by matching their finger prints with their national identity cards.
The nine were shot dead when hundreds of armed police stormed their den at a six-storey apartment building in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur neighbourhood.
Police yesterday launched a hunt for a survivor of the raid. Investigators hope the escaped extremist and another man who was arrested during the gunfight will shed light on the group’s claimed ties with the Islamic State group (IS).
“We’re conducting an investigation. Hasan has claimed that they were IS members,” a senior security official said, referring to a 25-year-old arrested in the raid who is being treated in hospital.
The British Council temporarily closed its offices in Bangladesh Wednesday over safety fears, as a rumour swirled that Islamist extremists would soon target a major market, school or foreign organisation.
Rouf, 24, was a business administration student at the North South University (NSU), Rahman said.
Local media said he was a close friend of Nibras Islam, one of five gunmen who attacked an upscale Dhaka cafe on Jul 1 and killed 22 people, mostly foreigners.
Police believe the nine were part of the same group that carried out the cafe attack.
NSU, a top private university where well-off people send their children for higher education, has been a hotbed of Islamist extremism.
Another of its students was shot dead in a northern Bangladesh town a week after the Dhaka cafe attack when Islamists launched a major assault on the country’s largest Eid prayer congregation, where some 250,000 people gathered.
Seven of its students were also convicted and jailed in December last year for the murder of an atheist blogger in early 2013, kickstarting a deadly campaign against secular activists and religious minorities.
Dhaka police chief Asaduzzaman Mia told reporters after the raid that most of the extremists killed in the operation were highly educated and from the country’s elite.