New Delhi: Police in Bangladesh denied Saturday that they're still holding a British man and a University of Toronto student rescued during this month's bloody attack on a restaurant by radical Islamists, saying they've questioned and released the men, who reportedly have been missing since the attack.
Hasnat Karim, the British national, and Tahmid Hasib Khan, the student, have not been heard from since being questioned by authorities following the 1 July attack, according to their families and Human Rights Watch.
After the New York-based rights group urged Bangladesh's government to guarantee the rights of Karim and Khan, Masudur Rahman, a Dhaka police spokesman, said Saturday that neither man was still being held by police.
"They are not in our custody. We don't know anything," Rahman told The Associated Press.
He would not confirm reports that they were still in the custody of any other agency as part of the investigation into the attack.
Five armed gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant on the night of 1 July, killing 20 people and holding others inside hostage. Security forces stormed the restaurant on 2 July, killing the gunmen and rescuing the remaining 13 hostages. Those killed were nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis and one Indian.
Human Rights Watch said all of the hostages except for Karim, 47, and Khan, 22, were released by authorities on 3 July.
Earlier this week, Amnesty International expressed its concern over Khan's safety and urged the government to disclose his whereabouts.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said Saturday that "Karim and Khan have not had access to a lawyer, and the police continue to deny holding them although they are clearly still being held by the Detective Branch. The authorities need to either charge or release them immediately."
The Islamic State group claimed the responsibility for the attack. The claim was rejected by Bangladesh's government, which said IS has no presence in the country and instead blamed the local radical group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh.