Rabiul Islam and his family were rescued before the Army launched 'Operation Twilight'. Photograph: (WION)
The Shibbari neighbourhood in Sylhet remains cut off from gas, electricity and power
Rabiul Islam, 36, lives on the fourth floor of the five-storey Atia Mahal building in the Shibbari neighbourhood of Sylhet, where commando troops of the Bangladesh army are conducting a counter-terror operation.
Islam and his family were rescued on the morning of March 25 before the the troops launched "Operation Twilight".
Islam was about to leave his house Friday morning when he was cautioned by security forces and terrorists in the building to stay inside.
"When I opened the windows in the morning I saw the security forces cordoned off the building from all sides and we were asked not to move," said Islam, who works at a food and sweetmeat factory only 500 yards away from the building.
"That is when I realised that we had become hostage," said Islam, who remained inside the building for an entire day.
Army spokespersons told WION that they learnt that terrorists planted improvised explosive devices in various parts of the building. The army had rescued the civilians using planks between rooftops of buildings and walked them out with covering fires.
"I noticed three gunshots coming from the opposite direction as I was being walked out of the building," said Islam.
The army fears that the ground floor of the building is heavily rigged with IEDs.
Islam has been living in the building for a year with his wife and two children.
In an exclusive interview with WION, Islam said the terrorists rented an apartment in the ground floor of the building around three months ago.
The five-storied building consists of 30 flats. Islam said that the flats in the building were available for a monthly rent at $100.
As Bangladesh witnesses the biggest counter-terror operation in the northeastern Sylhet, water, gas and electricity within 2-kilometre radius of the militant den has been disconnected.
Firing and explosions can be heard intermittently at the militant den. The army has killed two terrorists in the building on Sunday, which marked three days into the counter-terror operation. They fear one or more terrorists may still be inside and they are maintaining caution in their operation to minimise casualty and damage within the neighbourhood.
"How long will we have to put up with the situation?" asks Mozaffor Hossain, a worker at the Rajmahal sweetmeat factory within the vicinity of the counter-terror operation.
Meanwhile, Islam is currently living at his co-worker's house and is anxiously waiting to return to his home. "Our valuables are still inside the building," he concludes.