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Bangladesh: investigations after Dhaka attack

Asia @en/BreakingNews @en di

Investigations are continuing in Bangladesh to identify the network that has provided logistical support to the command of terrorists that on Friday night killed 20 civilians, mostly Italian and Japanese nationalities, in a coffee shop in the diplomatic area of ​​the capital Dhaka.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State, and some photos that show the face of five of the young attackers next to the black flag of Daesh have been disseminated by the local press. The terrorists, according to preliminary reports, would be largely members of the middle class of Dhaka, with a recent past as students at a renowned university in English language in the capital.

Special forces intervened on Saturday morning, after nearly 12 hours of siege, killing six members of the commando and managing to rescue 13 hostages. Five of them are still being held in custody by the authorities, and in recent hours have been questioned by the police to clarify their position. Among them, according to reports from anonymous police sources, there would be a Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi origin and a British citizen born in Bangladesh. The authorities are in the meantime conducting wide-ranging investigations questioning even friends and relatives of the people detained.

The police would like first to clarify the position of a Bengali hostage, trapped with his wife and children in the restaurant during the attack. In some amateur videos taken from the outside of the restaurant, the man is talking to some of the bombers before receiving permission to move away from there with family members. He would be a teacher of a private university in Dhaka, returned to his homeland after 20 years in England. The police suspect that one of the attackers studied in the same department where the professor regularly holds its lessons and wants to verify if the two could be connected in the period prior the massacre.

Initially the police insisted in denying any connection between the command and the networks of international terrorism. After the first claims and dissemination, on sites close to Daesh, of some pictures that seem to portray the Holey Artisan Backery interiors and the scene of the massacre, the police has changed partially line, stating that the ongoing investigations are seeking to determine whether the terrorists have had links with foreign groups, but denied that the attack may have had an outside director.

The investigations have sparked a manhunt against 6 members of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a local Islamist group, suspected of having collaborated in the organization of the assault and to have played a central role in the process of indoctrination of young terrorists, almost all educated and coming from the middle and high Bengali bourgeoisie. While the police try to locate and stop the six suspects, 130 members of the Islamist organization previously arrested are interrogated by judicial authorities seeking information useful to the investigation.

 

Luca Marchesini

Night of terror in Dhaka: 20 hostages killed

Asia @en/BreakingNews @en di

A commando of Islamists probably affiliated to the Islamic State attacked with firearms and sidearms a restaurant attended by foreigners in the diplomatic area of the capital of Bangladesh. This morning at 7.40, am after a night of stall, special army forces intervened with a flash blitz killing six attackers and freeing 13 hostages. A seventh terrorist was arrested. Two police officers were killed during the operation.

On the floor of the restaurant were found the bodies of 20 hostages, almost all them of Italian and Japanese nationality, as reported by local sources.

Many of the victims would present fatal wounds caused by sharp weapons. An employee of the restaurant kitchens, escaped the massacre, said that the bombers have penetrated the local armed with guns, grenades and swords, at 8:45 pm on Friday, shouting “God is great”, while 20 clients of foreign nationality (including which several diplomats and Italian entrepreneurs of the textile industry) were having dinner, along with the local clientele.

To outcry followed the gunfire and explosions. Many staff members, including the Italian chef of Holey Artisan Bakery, and several dozen customers have been able to get to safety before the bombers blocked the doors and barricade inside the restaurant. According to some sources, yet to be verified, the bombers would then dedicated to the massacre, brutally killing the hostages unable to recite passages from the Koran.

Some of the employees were holed up in the bathroom, managing to save himself and starting to communicate with the outside world through mobile and social media. A crowd of about two hundred people, made up of curious, friends and relatives of the hostages, had gathered near the restaurant while the police began to outline the area and to secure the perimeter.

The blitz tof his morning ended a 10-hour siege. The identity of the victims has yet to be verified.

Today’s deaths are added to the 40 killed in the Asian country from 2013 onwards for Islamist militants hand. The victims, including foreign, atheist blogger, the gay community activists and members of religious minorities, were often slaughtered with machetes, in an unprecedented blaze of violence organized and coordinated by terrorist groups with international links. Police responded, in recent months, with a crackdown against militant Islamism that led to the arrest of more than 10,000 people across the country.

So far, though, the Bangladeshi authorities had rejected the idea that local groups could be part of a transnational Islamist networks. Today’s attack will likely force them to reconsider that position.

Luca Marchesini

Luca Marchesini
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