Dhaka (Reuters): Bangladesh counter-terrorism police shot dead two militants on Friday in a gunfight in Dhaka, including a prime suspect in the slaughter of 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, in an attack on a cafe in the capital last year.

Nurul Islam Marjan, a commander of a splinter group of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was killed along with another militant, Monirul Islam, chief of Dhaka's counter-terrorism police said.

Marjan was on a police wanted list for his role in the attack on the cafe last July, which raised alarm over the rising threat of militancy.

So far police have hunted down and killed at least 40 militants linked to the cafe attack, including mastermind Tamim Chowdhury.

In September, police arrested Marjan's wife, Shaila Afrin Prioyti, along with other two female militants in Dhaka.

Marjan, who studied Arabic at Chittagong University, had disappeared a year ago from his family's village in Pabna district, 160 km (100 miles) north of the capital, police said.