Bangla cops detain 7 Islamist militants in raid

DHAKA: Bangladeshi police detained seven suspected Islamist militants and seized explosives and grenades on Thursday after a shoot-out during a raid on a flat in the capital, a police commander said.

Bangladesh faces what appears to be a growing threat of militant violence and has seen a string of incidents this year including the killing of several liberal activists and attacks on minority Shi'ite Muslims.

Police, acting on a tip-off from a detained militant suspect, cleared residents from a multi-storey block in a Dhaka suburb before launching their raid on the suspects who responded with grenades and gun fire, said senior city police officer Monirul Islam.

"We detained seven members of the JMB and from our primary interrogation we could confirm that three of them are members who hold important positions in the group," he said, referring to the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh militant group.

Three people were wounded, he said.

Islam said the grenades seized in the raid were similar to ones used in an attack on a Shi'ite religious gathering in Dhaka in October when two people were killed and dozens wounded.

The government dismissed a claim of responsibility for that attack purportedly from Islamic State, the hardline Sunni Muslim group that sees Shi'ites as apostates, saying the Middle Eastern militants had no presence in Bangladesh.