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Dhaka cops admit to killing cafe hostage

delhipaper Updated: Jul 06, 2016, 12:17 IST

DHAKA: Bangladeshi police said on Tuesday they were investigating whether security forces accidentally shot dead a kitchen worker when they stormed a Dhaka cafe where attackers killed 20 hostages in an assault claimed by the Islamic State.

Police named five attackers who stormed Holey Artisan Bakery in the Gulshan diplomatic zone on Friday— Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasheer, Khairul Islam and Shafiqul Islam — and said they were hunting for six members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) suspected of organising the attack.

Confusion over the number of attackers involved was partly cleared up when police said among the six people killed by security forces when they stormed the café to end a 12-hour siege was pizza maker Saiful Islam Chowkidar.

“We killed six people in the restaurant. A case has been registered against five. The sixth man was a restaurant employee,” top police official Saiful Islam said.

He may not be involved,” he said, adding the investigation was still on.

A café employee, shown a photo of a man killed at the eatery and wearing a chef’s outfit, identified him as Chowkidar and said he had worked there for 18 months.

However, there has been speculation that the attackers could have been helped by someone inside the restaurant, especially in bringing in bags with firearms and sharp weapons they used to butcher the hostages, including a young Indian woman.

There was also speculation on some Bangladeshi websites that Faraaz Hossain, hailed as a hero because he refused to leave the café without his friends Abinta Kabir and Tarishi Jain, could have been working with the attackers.

The speculation began after the websites posted video shot by a person living in a building near the restaurant and claimed a young man seen with a gun in the footage had a haircut similar to that of Hossain.

Hossain was killed along with his two friends and sources said the images of the dead hostages issued by the IS had three people who looked like them.

The government has dismissed the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility, saying the group does not have a presence in Bangladesh. The JMB, which has pledged allegiance to the IS, has been accused of involvement in many killings over the past year and police were interrogating more than 130 of its members already in custody in the hope of gleaning clues.

Police were also in touch with security agencies in Malaysia, where two of the attackers had attended a private university, but officials said they had not found any links with international militant groups.

ht epaper

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