Dhaka: A Bangladeshi politician spoke on Tuesday of his horror to learn his son was among suspected gunmen who murdered foreigners at a Dhaka cafe and said many young men from wealthy, educated families were going missing.
Imtiaz Khan Babul said his 22-year-old son Rohan Imtiaz, who was killed when commandos stormed the cafe on Saturday, had been a top-scoring student whose behaviour gave no hint he was radicalised before he disappeared last December.
"I was stunned and speechless to learn that my son had done such a heinous thing," a tearful Babul told AFP.
"I don`t know what changed him. There was nothing that would suggest that he was getting radicalised. He hardly read any religious books."
Babul, an official with the ruling Awami League party, said had not seen his son since travelling to India in December with his math teacher's wife, leaving the couple`s three children in Dhaka.
In the months that followed Rohan`s disappearance, Babul lobbied senior party officials to help find his only son and even scoured the city`s morgues. As he searched, he met other families who had suffered the same fate.
"I met so many parents whose boys had gone missing," he said. "Even yesterday, one of them was saying that I was lucky that I got the body of my boy. Some of them are not so lucky."
Babul said he believed his son may have been "brainwashed" on the Internet.
Bangladesh`s home minister has said the men behind Friday night`s attack at an upmarket cafe, which left 20 people dead, were highly educated and from wealthy families.
Witnesses say the perpetrators of the attack, which the Islamic State group has claimed, spared the lives of Muslims while herding foreigners to their deaths, killing many with machete-style weapons.
They included nine Italians, seven Japanese, a US citizen and a 19-year-old Indian student.
Six young men were shot dead at the end of the all-night siege, while one was taken alive and is being questioned.
The government has said all the attackers were members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned local Islamist group.Bangladesh`s foreign minister met diplomats Tuesday following the attack, the worst by far targeting the international community in Dhaka.
Hundreds of foreign firms operate out of Bangladesh and its clothes manufacturing industry is the lifeblood of the economy, accounting for more than 80 percent of exports.
"We`ve raised our worries during the meeting. We discussed how to deal with the situation and ensure security for the diplomatic community and the foreign community here," one foreign diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat said they also discussed foreign cooperation in the fight against Islamist extremism in Bangladesh.
The government says homegrown extremists are responsible for the deaths of some 80 secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities murdered over the last three years.
It has repeatedly denied international jihadist networks have a presence in the country, even though IS and a South Asian branch of al Qaeda have claimed a number of attacks.
Since Friday`s assault, police have filed an anti-terrorism case against five known Islamists and an unspecified number of "unidentified attackers", the assistant commissioner of Dhaka police Rafiqul Islam told AFP, without giving further details.
Among the suspected attackers were a graduate of Bangladesh`s leading private university and an 18-year-old student at an elite school.
Another was a former madrasa student from the northern district of Bogra, which is seen as a hotbed of Islamist radicalism.
Police on Tuesday identified the fifth attacker as Shafiqul Islam Uzzal, a 26-year-old from Bogra who had been working as a kindergarten teacher in Dhaka.
Earlier, the bodies of the Japanese victims arrived on a government plane in Tokyo. All seven had worked with the government-run Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Bangladesh.
Authorities said a plane carrying the bodies of the nine Italian victims had flown out of Dhaka early on Tuesday, while the body of the Indian victim was repatriated on Monday.