Dhaka: Bangladesh on Sunday blamed "homegrown" Islamist terrorists and Pakistan's spy agency ISI for the country's worst terror attack in which 20 hostages were hacked to death, ruling out the role of the Islamic State, as the shocked nation began observing two days of national mourning.
"Let me clear it again, there are no ISIS 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," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told PTI.
"We know them (hostage-takers) along with their ancestors, they all grew here in Bangladesh...They belong to homegrown outfits like JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh)," he said.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the killing of the hostages, mostly foreigners, and two police officers during the 12-hour siege that ended yesterday after the army stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery popular with expats in the diplomatic zone here, killing six attackers and capturing one alive.
Hossain Toufique Imam, the political advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said that the way in which the hostages were killed with machetes suggests the role of a local terrorist group, the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen.
"Pakistan's ISI and Jamaat connection is well known... they want to derail the current government," Imam told a TV channel.
The arrested terrorist chickened out at the last minute and he holds the key to crucial details, he said.
Two teams of CID investigators and a bomb disposal squad today visited the Spanish restaurant to collect evidence after Bangladesh's worst terror attack.
A police source was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune that all the attackers were Bangladeshi nationals aged between 20 and 28. Police said the attackers were well-educated and most came from rich families.
"All of them were students and communicated at the crime scene in both Bengali and English," the police source said.
Police chief AKM Shahidul Hoque said five of the dead gunmen were listed as militants and police had been looking for them. Police identified them as Akash, Bikash, Don, Bandhon, and Ripon.
Hostages who were killed include 19-year-old Indian girl Tarishi Jain. Nine Italians, 7 Japanese, one American of Bangladeshi origin, and two Bangladeshis were also among the people who were killed.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to trace the "roots" of the culprits who supplied weapons and explosives to the terrorists.
Her remarks came during a meeting with Japan's State Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara at her official residence Ganabhaban.