Dhaka: One year after the worst terror attack in Bangladesh, a popular cafe which was the site of the horror reopened on Saturday, even as the country was grappling to rein in radical Islamists and searching for the five remaining terrorists behind the gruesome incident.
The Holey Artisan Bakery and O' Kitchen restaurant in the upmarket Gulshan area was opened for the relatives and public to pay respects to the 22 people, including an Indian girl, killed in the attack.
Representatives of various political parties including the ruling Awami League, opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and various civil society groups and police personnel paid their respects and laid flowers at the site.
On the evening of 1 July, 2016, five operatives of Islamic State-inclined Neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB) stormed into the eatery and started firing indiscriminately. They turned off all the lights and held the diners hostage. They then brutally killed the hostages with guns and machetes. An Indian woman was among the 22 victims.
Around 12 hours later, para commandos stormed the restaurant. Two police officers were killed in the attack claimed by the Islamic State.
Eight suspects who were involved in its planning died in several anti-terror raids that followed. Four have been captured alive, while five more remain at large.
"We are trying to track down the five fugitives as we identified all those involved in the attack," a police spokesman said.
Officials familiar with the investigations said they found evidence that 21 people were involved in the attack. "Some 70 militants were gunned down or blew themselves up during encounters with police in the past one year. We have also arrested 128 suspected militants," police spokesman Quamrul Islam said.
However, several analysts said that despite intensified security clampdowns after the attack, no visible progress has been made in investigations. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan earlier this week said despite being late, the investigating agency would submit a "flawless” charge-sheet in the Holey Artisan attack case.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said that the prosecutors await the completion of the investigation process to "take a
special initiative to ensure quick hearing of the (Holey Artisan attack) case".
"We will take the case very seriously so that the trial proceedings are completed within the shortest possible time," Alam added.
The Bangladeshi government has arrested several militants after the cafe siege, but denies the existence of the Islamic State in the country and blames home-grown groups for the attack.
Analysts believe that the Islamic State may not be physically present in the country, but is involved in propagating jihadist ideologies and contributing to radicalisation and the recruitment of jihadists by domestic extremist groups.
Updated Date: Jul 01, 2017 15:02 PM