Six killed as Bangladesh police raid militant hideout

DHAKA (Reuters) - Police in Bangladesh raided a militant hideout on Thursday sparking a clash in which five suspected militants and a fire fighter were killed in blasts that the militants set off, police said.

Bangladeshi security forces have been hunting for militants, especially members of a group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, since an attack on a cafe in the capital, Dhaka, last July in which 22 people were killed, most of them foreigners.

Police and army commandos have killed more than 70 suspected militants and arrested hundreds since then.

In the latest incident, police raided the hideout, about 200 miles (120 km) west of Dhaka, after a tip-off.

The militants threw grenades, wounding two officers, the area’s police station chief, Hipjur Alam Munsi, told Reuters.

The militants, suspected members of a faction of the Islamic-State-linked Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh group, set off explosives, killing themselves and the fire fighter, as police closed in, Munsi said.

Al Qaeda and Islamic State have claimed responsibility for some of other attacks in Bangladesh over the past few years but the government has denied the presence of such groups in the Muslim-majority country of 160 million, blaming domestic militants instead.

Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel