Dhaka: Even as Islamic State took responsibility for the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe attack, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan blamed “homegrown” Islamist terrorists and Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for the terror attack that left 20 civilians dead.
The Home Minister said, “Let me clear it again, there is 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.”
“We know them (hostage-takers) along with their ancestors, they all grew up here in Bangladesh... they belong to homegrown outfits like JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh),” he said.
Twenty hostages, including nine Italians, seven Japanese, one US citizen and an Indian were killed when Islamist militants stormed the Holey Artisan cafe in Gulshan area early Saturday morning.
Two police officers were died and 30 others injured. After a 12-hour siege commandos rescued 13 people. Six attackers were killed in the raid. A seventh man was arrested and is in custody.
The attack began at 8.45 p.m. when around 20-22 guests were at the Holey Artisan Bakery downstairs and the O'Kitchen Restaurant upstairs, a cafe popular with foreigners.
The gunmen, shouting "Allahu Akbar" raided the cafe and took hostages, and slaughtered those who were unable to recite the Quran, said rescued hostages.
Later, the area was sealed off, and following directives from Prime Minister Hasina Sheikh, the armed forces along with the Rapid Action Battalion and police launched an assault, codenamed 'Operation Thunderbolt', in the morning. The siege ended at 8.30 am.
The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack.