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04 July 2016

Watch: Bangladesh attack, Dhaka’s Holey cafe attackers were known to police

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Bangladeshi officials have named five of the men who carried out the country’s worst terror attack on Friday and said they were known to police.
Twenty hostages, most of them foreign, were killed when Islamist militants stormed a cafe in the capital, Dhaka.

Two police officers also died and 30 were injured. After a 12-hour siege commandos rescued 13 people. The so-called Islamic State group said it was behind the attack but the government has denied this.

Bangladesh’s home minister said on Sunday that the attackers belonged to a local militant group which has been banned for more than a decade. “They are members of the Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh,” Asaduzzaman Khan told the AFP news agency. “They have no connections with the Islamic State.” Police chief Shahidul Hoque only made the men’s first names public: Akash, Bikash, Don, Bandhon and Ripon.

Six attackers were killed in the raid on the Holey Artisan cafe in Gulshan. A seventh man was arrested and is still being questioned. IS had earlier released photographs of the alleged attackers posing in front of a black IS flag.

The men were are said to belong to well-to-do families and studied in private schools and universities, not in Islamic seminaries or madrassas, where many Islamist militant groups are thought to draw recruits.

Social media has been buzzing with former classmates who have recognised some of the attackers from their pictures, says the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Dhaka. Bangladesh has declared two days of national mourning for those killed.

Nine Italians, seven Japanese, one US citizen and an Indian were among the dead. One Italian is unaccounted for.

Who are the victims?

Nine Italians named by the Italian foreign ministry as: Cristian Rossi; Marco Tondat; Nadia Benedetti; Adele Puglisi; Simona Monti; Claudia Maria D’Antona; Vincenzo D’Allestro; Maria Rivoli and Claudio Cappelli

Seven Japanese. Five men and two women, four of whose names have been released by Japanese officials: Koyo Ogasawara, Makoto Okamura, Yuko Sakai and Rui Shimodaira

Four Bangladeshis Two were named in national media as Faraaz Ayaaz Hossai, a student at Emory University in the US, and Ishrat Akhond, the other two were policemen

US citizen Abinta Kabir, also a student at Emory University

One Indian Tarishi Jain, 18, who was a student at the University of California, Berkeley

More about the victims: 

Announcing the two days of national mourning, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to fight terror attacks in the country.

“Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such acts,” she said. “They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism.”

Meanwhile, extra police checkpoints have sprung up across Gulshan, which is an upscale diplomatic neighbourhood. But many Bangladeshis feel it’s a little too late, and they are wondering how a group of heavily armed men were able to walk into the café on Friday evening, unchecked, our correspondent says.

Bangladesh has recently suffered a spate of murders of secular bloggers, gay activists, academics and members of religious minorities, blamed on Islamist militants.

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