Former hostages questioned in Bangladesh terror attack
Terrorism | Authorities interrogating five of the 13 rescued
by Mickey McLean
Posted 7/02/16, 10:33 am
UPDATE (July 4, 1:15 p.m.): Authorities are questioning five of the 13 hostages who were rescued from a Dhaka, Bangladesh, restaurant Saturday morning. It is not clear whether all five are suspects or are being held and questioned because authorities believe they might offer helpful clues in piecing together what took place in the terror attack.
Among those killed were nine from Italy, seven from Japan, one from India, and three from Bangladesh. Two were students at Emory University in Atlanta, the school confirmed. Two Bangladeshi police officers died at the hospital after being wounded in the gunfire.
Residents of Dhaka paid their respects to the victims at a vigil held at a local sports stadium.
UPDATE (July 2, 12:45 p.m.): White House spokesman Josh Earnest has confirmed that a U.S. citizen was among the 20 hostages killed in a terrorist attack at a restaurant in Bangladesh. He did not release the name of the victim.
Earnest said the attack was a “despicable act of terrorism” and the United States stands with Bangladesh and the international community in confronting terrorism.
OUR EARLIER REPORT: Bangladeshi paramilitary forces stormed a popular restaurant in Dhaka early Saturday, ending a 10-hour standoff with heavily armed militants who had taken nearly three-dozen people hostage. Twenty hostages and two police officers died in the attack claimed by Islamic State (ISIS).
The father of a Bangladeshi businessman who, along with his family, was among the 13 rescued said the attackers did not harm hostages who could recite verses from the Quran.
Rezaul Karim said his son Hasnat told him the attackers “did not hit people who could recite verses from the Quran. The others were tortured.”
“The gunmen asked everyone inside to recite from the Quran. Those who recited were spared. The gunmen even gave them meals last night,” Karim said.
The paramilitary troops who mounted the rescue operations in the morning killed six terrorists and recovered explosive devices and sharp weapons from the scene, Brig. Gen. Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the attack in a nationally televised speech, noting that security officials arrested one of the militants who carried out the attack during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such act,” Hasina said. “They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism.”
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online. The Amaq news agency, affiliated with ISIS, also posted photos purportedly showing hostages’ bodies. The authenticity of the images could not be confirmed.
The restaurant, the Holey Artisan Bakery, is located in Dhaka’s Gulshan area, a diplomatic zone, and many of the hostages were reportedly from other countries, including Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Argentina, South Korea, and Italy.
The U.S. State Department said all U.S. personnel in Dhaka are accounted for with no injuries reported. According to a White House official, President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack by chief counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.
The State Department could not confirm that ISIS carried out the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.