Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, the mastermind of a cafe attack in Bangladesh that killed 22 people including an Indian girl last month, was on Saturday killed along with his two aides during a police raid on their hideout near the capital.
“The gunfight erupted after police started raiding a building at Naraynganj’s Pikeparha on the outskirts of Dhaka,” counter-terrorism unit’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Sanowar Hossain was quoted as saying by the bdnews24.com.
The unit’s chief Monirul Islam earlier said the raid was conducted upon information gleaned from an arrested operative of the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh.
Police spokesman Jalaluddin confirmed that Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Chowdhury was among those killed during the raid, the second major clampdown after the nine suspected Islamist terrorists were killed last month.
A joint team from counter terrorism and transnational crime unit, police headquarters and district police cordoned off the house since the morning on information that a group of militants were staying there, superintendent of Narayanganj police Mainul Haq was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.
As the security forces tried to enter the house, the criminals opened fire from inside, he said.
Talking to reporters at the scene, the inspector general of police said the operation was carried out under codename ‘Operation Hit-strong 27’ in which police’s elite SWAT conducted the main part.
“The duration of the operation was one hour. When we entered into the house we saw three bodies lying on the floor,” he said. “The face of one of them completely matched with the photograph of Chowdhury, which made us sanguine that he is the man,” he said.
Another police officer at the scene said the slain militants used to live in the house as tenants identifying themselves as “medicine businessmen”.
He said the landlord extended cooperation in carrying out the raid. Few grenades and a pistol were found from the scene.
Chowdhury, 30, was identified by police as the mastermind of the country’s worst terror attack on July 1 at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka that killed 22 people. An Indian girl was among 17 foreigners killed in the attack.
According to the investigators, Chowdhury had accompanied the five attackers from their Bashundhara flat to Gulshan, Dhaka and left the area after bidding them farewell just before the cafe siege began on July 1.
The investigators also found his involvement in the Sholakia attack on the July 7 Eid day that killed four people, including two constables, an attacker, and a local woman.
Chowdhury was also the mentor of the nine militants who were killed in a police operation at Kalyanpur on July 26.
According to police, Chowdhury used to stay in Canada and might have developed a network of financiers abroad before coming to Bangladesh in 2013.
Chowdhury has led and financed efforts to radicalise young Muslims since returning from Canada, officials say.
Police had announced Tk 2 million reward earlier this month for information leading to Chowdhury’s arrest.
Investigators earlier identified Chowdhury as the leader of Neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh.
Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the cafe attack. But police believe that Neo-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, which is close to the IS, was involved in organising the attack.
The police chief had earlier said that Dhaka alerted Indian security agencies against Chowdhury’s possible intrusion to the neighbouring country as a nationwide manhunt was underway to track him down at home.
Chowdhury’s family hails from the northeastern Bangladesh district of Sylhet and his father Shafi Ahmed Chowdhury, who was a mariner, immigrated to Canada in the early 1970s.
Image: Policemen stand guard along a road leading to the Holey Artisan Bakery and the O'Kitchen Restaurant after gunmen attacked it in Dhaka. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters