07/01/2017, 18.47
BANGLADESH
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One year after the Dhaka massacre, fear remains strong

by Sumon Corraya

On 1st July 2016, terrorists attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery Café killing 20. Following this, the Gulshan area has become deserted, abandoned by tourists and shops. Several Catholics and Protestant missionaries have left the country. A full account of the investigations will be published "very soon".

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Fear remains strong in Bangladesh a year to the day after the massacre at the Dhaka's Holey Artisan Bakery Café, where 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed.

Following the attack in the Gulshan area, a neighbourhood home to various embassies and diplomatic missions, many Catholics and Protestant missionaries have left the country. "I did not feel safe in Bangladesh because of my Christian faith, so I moved to the United States with my family,” said one who spoke to AsiaNews.

For their part, the authorities have continued their investigation into the terrorists and the accomplices who took part in the attack and are expected to release their final report soon.

On July 1, 2016, five Islamic extremists attacked the restaurant shouting "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is great) taking scores of customers hostage. Then they proceeded to ask separate those who could recite verses of the Qur‘an from those who could not. The former were released, the latter were detained.

At the end of the long, overnight siege, the terrorists shot the “infidels”. Some 20 hostages were killed: nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian, one Bangladeshi-American and two Bangladeshis (including Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, a Muslim student who refused to leave his foreign friends).

Witnesses later talked about the terrible violence with a sense of shudder. Once seen as moderate and open, Islam in Bangladesh took on more extremist connotations on that 1st July.

Torun Gomes, a Christian living in the area of ​​the attack, remembers “hearing the name of ISIS on television, radio and newspapers. But when the terrorists attacked near my home, I was surprised. We are saddened by the mayhem caused by the militants and we still live in fear. "

He added that many residents left the neighbourhood. Once full of shops and people, it is now deserted. Visitors are struck by the silence as many restaurants simply shut down. Many foreigners, who once called the place home, have picked up and left.

Monirul Islam, head of Bangladesh’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CCTC) Unit, which is co-ordinating the investigation, said that 24 people involved in various capacities – planning, training and execution – have been identified.

Fifteen of these were killed by security forces. Four are in jail and five are still wanted. The dead include Tamim Chowdhury, Nurul Islam Marjan, Major Zahidul Islam, Sarowar Jahan, Tanveer Quaderi, Md Abdullah alias Rony, Abu Rayhan alias Tareq, and Faridul Islam Akash.

Of the four prisoners, three – Jahangir Alam aka Rajeeb Gandhi, Raqibul Hassan aka Rigan, and Mizanur Rahman aka Senior Mizan – have confessed under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The total cost for the operation was 900,000 Taka (US$ 11,100).

Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Wednesday said that the investigating agency will submit a report in connection with the case. “We’re preparing a flawless charge sheet, and it will be submitted before the court very soon,” he told reporters at his Secretariat office.

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