NEW DELHI — Police in Bangladesh killed three suspected militants Saturday, including a man they identified as a Canadian accused of masterminding a deadly attack on a cafe in Dhaka last month.
Top counterterrorism official Monirul Islam said police raided a two-storey house in Narayanganj district near Dhaka and killed the suspects early Saturday.
The dead included Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi-born Canadian, who police believe was one of two masterminds of the July 1 attack on a popular restaurant in Dhaka that left 20 people dead.
The militants belonged to the banned group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, or JMB, Bangladesh’s police chief A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque told reporters.
Chowdhury was the mastermind of the July 1 attack and another attack on an Eid congregation outside Dhaka on July 7 marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, he said.
Bangladesh police have been conducting raids across the country to hunt down those behind the attacks.
The police chief said security officials raided the house acting on a tip that Chowdhury, along with other suspects, was hiding in the building. The suspects opened fire at officials who retaliated, he said.
A SWAT team made the final push and fatally shot the suspects after they failed to surrender. Haque said the team asked them to give themselves up but they went on firing.
The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the restaurant attack, but authorities have denied that all along, saying it was the act of the JMB and that the ISIL has no presence in the Muslim-majority country.
The attack on the upscale Holey Artisan Bakery killed 20 people, including 17 foreigners. The July 7 attack on the prayer gathering north of Dhaka left four people dead, including two police officers.
Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Saturday it is aware of news reports that Chowdhury was killed in Bangladesh.
“Canadian officials are in contact with Bangladeshi authorities to gather additional information,” said Global Affairs spokeswoman Diana Khaddaj in an email. “No further details can be provided at this time.”
Also, the family of a Toronto university student who was detained in Bangladesh after surviving the cafe attack said Friday that the young man had been transferred to prison.
Tahmid Hasib Khan’s family has maintained the 22-year-old’s innocence ever since the July 1 attack.
Khan is a permanent resident of Canada and an undergraduate student studying global health at the University of Toronto.
He had arrived in Dhaka on July 1 to celebrate Eid with his family, and planned to travel to Nepal to begin an internship with UNICEF the following week.
He was with friends at the Holey Artisan Bakery when five gunmen attacked. Security forces stormed the restaurant on July 2, killing the gunmen and rescuing the remaining hostages.
Khan was taken into custody for questioning immediately after the attack, and police formally announced his arrest at the beginning of August.
Part of the narrative around Khan’s case are media reports that quote hostages from the restaurant as saying Khan was ordered to hold a gun during the attack, and that he was photographed doing so.
Global Affairs Canada has said Canadian officials are monitoring Khan’s situation.