NEW DELHI –At least six people, including two policemen, have died in explosions in eastern Bangladesh as troops battle suspected militants holed up with an ammunitions cache, police said Sunday.
The explosions Saturday on a road near an Islamic religious school in the city of Sylhet also wounded at least 25 people, police officer Bashudev Bonik said.
Paramilitary troops have been trying since Friday to flush out Islamist radicals who have holed up in a building with a large cache of ammunition.
Several explosions have occurred, including a large blast Sunday afternoon. Police have barred civilians, including journalists, from the area.
The gunbattle with suspected militants comes after a man killed himself on Friday by detonating explosives near a police post on a busy road near the airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital. No one else was hurt.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Sylhet and Dhaka, according to the SITE Intelligence group, citing the Islamic State news agency Amaq. SITE monitors terror group activity online.
The blast near the airport was the second suicide attack in a week in the Dhaka area. On March 17, a suspected bomber died in a blast near barracks of the elite Rapid Action Battalion anti-terror police force.
Bangladesh has experienced a renewed level of Islamic militancy in recent years. Dozens of atheists, liberal writers, bloggers and publishers, as well as members of minority communities and foreigners, have been targeted and killed.
Last July, 17 foreigners were killed when five militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka’s upscale diplomatic zone.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, but Bangladesh’s government has consistently denied the presence of the militant group in the impoverished South Asian nation, and says the attacks are the work of local radical groups.