Bangladesh police on Saturday blamed homegrown terror group Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) for the two recent terror attacks, including the Dhaka cafe siege, and dismissed ISIS claims over the deadly assaults.
“The five terrorists killed at Gulshan (cafe) were JMB members. Police had their details and been looking for them for a while,” Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Haque told reporters.
Twenty-two people, including 17 foreigners, were killed in the brutal late-night attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan area of the capital on July 1. During a joint operation police killed six of the attackers.
Six days later, militants attacked police guarding the largest Eid gathering in Bangladesh and killed three more people.
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Haque said the same group was responsible for both attacks.
He said one of the suspects who was arrested from the site of second attack admitted that they had contact with the attackers of the Holey Artisan restaurant.
Asked about the ISIS claims over the attacks, the police chief reiterated his earlier stance negating the claim.
He said identical claims were made after every such assault, but “we can’t find any link as to why they do it”.
Several security analysts said despite being a homegrown outfit JMB had ideological closeness with ISIS while Ansarul Islam Bangladesh (ABT), another banned Islamist outfit, was inclined to al Qaeda.
“ISIS might not have directly carried out the attacks, but JMB could be operating as their local agent in Bangladesh because of its ideological inclination,” Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) president retired major general ANM Muniruzzaman told reporters.
Meanwhile, a teenager who police say was a suspect in the July 1 Dhaka attack died in custody and his family said he was tortured by the security forces.
Police and doctors said Zakir Hossain Shawon, a kitchen assistant in the cafe, died yesterday at a state-run hospital in the capital.
His family insisted that he was a hostage.
“My son is completely innocent…he was the main breadwinner (as the kitchen assistant) for the family,” father of 18-year old Shawon’s father told newsmen in Dhaka.
His father Abdus Sattar demanded an investigation into his death as “his entire body carries marks of torture”.