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Dhaka cafe attackers’ photos out, minister says they are from rich families

The seven terrorists who attacked an upscale cafe in Dhaka and butchered 20 hostages were Bangladeshi citizens, authorities said on Sunday.

TerrorInDhaka Updated: Jul 03, 2016 18:35 IST
Bangladeshi police and military gather in an intersection near an upscale restaurant after a bloody siege ended in Dhaka on Saturday.
Bangladeshi police and military gather in an intersection near an upscale restaurant after a bloody siege ended in Dhaka on Saturday.(AFP)

The seven terrorists who attacked an upscale cafe in Dhaka and butchered 20 hostages were Bangladeshi citizens, authorities said on Sunday.

Bangladesh home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the attackers, who were armed with sharpened weapons and firearms, were not linked to the Islamic State militant group, which has claimed the assault.

“Let me clear it again, there are no ISIS (an acronym for the Islamic State) 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,” he said, identifying the attackers as being part of the banned Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB).

“They are all Bangladeshis. They are from rich families, they have good educational background,” the minister told news agency Associated Press.

Khan said “it has become a fashion” to become militants, The Daily Star reported.

Police chief Shahidul Hoque said investigators will explore the possibility of “an international link”, but added “primarily, we suspect they are JMB members”.

Read: After Dhaka cafe slaughter, fear for Bangladesh garment industry

In recent months, Bangladesh has seen a spate of attacks targeting the minority Hindus, gays, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreign nationals. Even though the IS and al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks, the government has maintained the groups have no presence in Bangladesh.

The US-based SITE intelligence group released photos of the attackers who laid siege to the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter on Friday night, the Bangladeshi media said.

“The identities of the persons in the undated photos were not provided,” bdnews24.com reported. “Another group of terrorism observers, Terrorism Monitor, identified the same persons as Abu Omar, Abu Salmah, Abu Rahim, Abu Muslim and Abu Muharib al-Bengali.”

Read: Dhaka attackers spared hostages who could recite Quran verses: Survivor

The report said police, too, released photos of the attackers -- six of them were killed and one taken alive after a 12-hour siege at the popular restaurant.

“Four persons seemed to be in both sets of photos published by police and IS,” the report said.

Five of the gunmen shot dead were listed as militants and police had been looking for them. They were identified as Akash, Bikash, Don, Bandhon and Ripon, police said.

A law enforcement source told the Dhaka Tribune that “all of them (attackers) were Bangladeshi nationals aged between 20 and 28”.

“All of them were students and communicated at the crime scene in both Bengali and English,” the report quoted the source as saying.

Classmates in Bangladesh’s North South University, an expensive private institution, identified one of the attackers as Nibras Islam, bdnews24.com reported. The university authorities could not be reached for comment.

“An expatriate Bangladeshi has posted on Facebook a photo of one Mir Sabih Mubashsher along with the photo of an attacker,” it added.

He quoted one of Mubashsher’s classmates in Scholastica School in Dhaka as saying that Mubashsher went missing in March before his A-Level exam, an IANS report said.

(With agency inputs)