Bangladesh government has clarified that the attackers who slaughtered 20 hostages inside a cafe in Dhaka, were members of “homegrown” Islamist terrorist outfits and not members of IS (Islamic State).
“Let me clear it again, there are no ISIS or al-Qaeda presence or existence in Bangladesh…the hostage-takers were all home-grown terrorists not members of ISIS or any other international Islamist outfits,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told PTI.
“We know them (hostage-takers) along with their ancestors, they all grew here in Bangladesh…they belong to homegrown outfits like JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh),” he said.
On Saturday, Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the the country’s worst terror attack. 20 hostages were killed and 30 others were injured in the terror attack.
The victims were mostly foreigners as the cafe was popular with expats in the diplomatic zone. 9 Italians, 7 Japanese, one American of Bangladeshi origin, one Indian girl, and two locals were killed in the attack. Most of the victims were found with their throats slit.
The 11-hour siege ended after the Army stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery, killing six attackers and capturing one alive. A police source was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune that all the attackers were Bangladeshi nationals aged between 20 and 28. Police also revealed that the attackers were well-educated and most of them came from rich families.
“All of them were students and communicated at the crime scene in both Bengali and English,” a police source said.
The police released the photos of the six gunmen killed during the raid. The seventh, who was caught alive is being interrogated by Bangladeshi intelligence officers.
Police chief AKM Shahidul Hoque said five of the dead gunmen were listed as militants and police had been looking for them.
The government has consistently ruled out the presence of IS in the Muslim-majority nation though experts have been maintaining that series of brutal attacks on minorities and secular activists had the hallmarks of IS.
Post the attack, an alert has been sounded along the 856-km long Indian border with Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the shocked nation is observing two days of national mourning. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to do everything to eliminate terrorists from the country and asked extremists to stop killing in the name of religion.
She had asked all, including the general public, to unite to resist a “handful of terrorists”.
(With inputs from PTI)