Firefighters and law enforcers entered a suspected terror hideout in Dhaka's Mirpur on Wednesday morning, after overnight explosions ignited a fire in the building, which had been cordoned-off for almost 36 hours.
"Three of our units are working on the scene. They will check for explosives and whether flames are still burning,” Fire Service Deputy Director Debashish Bardhan said, reports bdnews24.
But it's yet to be known what happened to suspected terrorist Abdullah and his accomplices, who were holed up inside an apartment in a six-storey building on Mirpur's Mazar Road.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said their bomb disposal unit and dog squad have entered the building.
"Our men will sweep the whole building before entering the fourth-floor apartment occupied by the militants. We can then comment on the situation of the militants," RAB Media Wing chief Mufti Mahmud Khan told the media.
The raid unfolded in the early hours of Tuesday on information from two suspected Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh or JMB activists, who were arrested in Tangail the previous day in possession of a drone and local weapons.
Security forces sealed off the six-storey building and evacuated residents of 23 out of the 24 apartments before cutting off utility supplies on Tuesday morning.
RAB chief Benazir Ahmed told the media later in the day that terrorist Abdullah, his two wives, two children and two accomplices were holed up in one of the fourth-floor apartments.
According to RAB, Abdullah had been involved in terrorism since 2005. A long-time resident of Mazar Road, he used to repair electronics equipment and sell pigeons.
"He said he has 50 improvised explosives devices besides other flammable chemicals inside his flat.”
“We were targeted with gunfire from that location after we cordoned off this place. We believe he has a pistol too," Benazir said.
Throughout the day, RAB officials negotiated with Abduallah and asked him to turn himself in.
In the evening, the media was told that the suspect agreed to surrender between 7:30pm and 8:00pm.
But the suspect kept RAB waiting for almost two hours. Around 10:00pm, blasts from the building rocked the area.
The explosions triggered a fire in the suspect's apartment, lighting up the area. Bursts of gunfire could be also heard from the scene.
RAB said the suspects carried out three large explosions.
Senior firefighter Debashish Bardhan said Wednesday morning that it took them over two hours to put out the fire triggered by explosions in the night.
He said initial evidence suggests that chemicals were used to carry out the blasts.