Bangladesh on Saturday said it has identified the masterminds of the July 1 Dhaka cafe terror attack and a second assault days later.
“The government has identified the masterminds of the two attacks, they will be exposed to justice,” home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told the media, but declined to elaborate “in the interest of investigations”.
Islamist militants launched an attack on a restaurant in Dhaka’s upmarket Gulshan diplomatic zone, killing 22 people, including 19-year-old Indian girl Tarishi Jain and two police officers. Six suspected militants were gunned down in the commando operation the next morning.
Security officials said they had confirmed the identities of five of the six slain attackers.
Six days after the Gulshan cafe attack, militants tried to carry out an assault on the country’s biggest Eid congregation in northern Sholakia, killing two policemen.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has alleged that the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islam and its ally, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of ex-premier Khaleda Zia, had patronised the assaults.
The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the cafe attack, but the government claims the home-grown Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh was behind both the attacks.
The IS has also claimed a number of killings of secular and liberal activists, writers and religious minorities, including moderate Sufi preachers, in the past, but the government continues to deny the presence of any foreign terrorists on Bangladeshi soil.
However, in an apparent weakening of stance, senior government leaders and police said Bangladeshi militants appeared to be trying to establish links with the IS or ensure the terrorist group’s access to media outlets to lodge the claims.
“Those who carried out the Gulshan attack were all Bangladeshis, but I don’t rule out their possible foreign links. However, we don’t want to say anything in this regard without any proof,” Dhaka police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told a separate media briefing at his office.