Bangladesh marks first ’ver­sary of deadly siege

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered yes­ter­day at the site of one of the worst Is­lamist at­tacks in Bangladesh’s his­tory to mark the first an­niver­sary of the deadly at­tack on an up­scale Dhaka cafe. Weep­ing mourn­ers laid flow­ers out­side the old premises of the Ho­ley Ar­ti­san Bak­ery, the cafe which five young men armed with guns and knives stormed into on July 1, 2016, tak­ing dozens hostage and killing 22 peo­ple. Most of the vic­tims were for­eign­ers-mostly Ital­ian and Ja­panese na­tional and many were bru­tally hacked to death.

Since then, the lake­side prop­erty has been cor­doned off first by po­lice and then by the own­ers-the bak­ery it­self has re­opened at a new, more se­cure, lo­ca­tion. Amid heavy po­lice se­cu­rity, the two-storey white-painted house was opened up for four hours yes­ter­day, as top po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, the Ital­ian and Ja­panese am­bas­sadors, and scores of tear­ful mourn­ers paid trib­ute to the vic­tims of the siege. “The mem­o­ries are painful and aw­ful,” Monica Chowd­hury, the aunt of one of the vic­tims, Faraaz Hos­sain said. “This is not the true face of Bangladesh. We’ve lost friends. I’ve lost my nephew. It hurts deep in­side my heart,” she said.

Bangladesh’s cul­tural af­fairs min­is­ter Asaduz­za­man Nur told re­porters that the gov­ern­ment had never imag­ined this kind of at­tack could oc­cur in the coun­try. “Bangladesh has a long his­tory of rich cul­ture and lib­eral prac­tices. This at­tack was also an at­tack on our her­itage,” he said. Bangladesh is grad­u­ally “over­com­ing the threat” posed by Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, he added. Mourner Husne Ara said that while she had not lost any friends or rel­a­tives dur­ing the at­tack, it had shaken her deeply and changed her life.

“The anx­i­ety I feel nowa­days when my chil­dren go out can’t be ex­pressed in words. I pray this kind of in­ci­dent never re­peats,” she said. The Is­lamic State group im­me­di­ately claimed the at­tack but the sec­u­lar gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina has re­peat­edly de­nied that IS has any pres­ence in the coun­try, in­stead pin­ning the blame on home­grown Is­lamist out­fits. Since the at­tack, the law en­force­ment of­fi­cers have gunned down nearly 70 Is­lamist ex­trem­ists across the coun­try in­clud­ing the Bangladeshi-ori­gin Canadian “mas­ter­mind” of the cafe siege. —AFP

—AP

DHAKA: Bangladeshis pay their re­spects to vic­tims on the first an­niver­sary of the deadly hostage cri­sis at the up­scale Ho­ley Ar­ti­san Bak­ery in Dhaka yes­ter­day.

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