Bangladesh: Suspect in Dhaka Café Attack Dies of Injuries

Shahriar Sharif
2016.07.08
Dhaka
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20160708-BD-Suspects1000.jpg A relative holds a picture of Zakir Hossain Shaon, who was detained by police after a deadly terrorist standoff at the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in Dhaka, July 4, 2016. On Friday, Shaon died of injuries sustained when Bangladeshi security forces stormed the café on July 2.
AFP

A man arrested by police on suspicion of being involved in last week’s deadly terrorist standoff at a Dhaka restaurant died on Friday of injuries sustained when security forces stormed the establishment to free hostages, bringing the attack’s death toll to 29, police sources told BenarNews.

But the parents of 22-year-old Bangladeshi Zakir Hossain Shaon, who died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said he was innocent, that he never took part in any militant group and was working as an assistant cook at the Holey Artisan Bakery café, when the deadly overnight standoff began on July 1.

Two anonymous police officials told BenarNews that Shaon was a suspect in the attack.

Reports in the Bangladeshi media confirmed that Shaon had died in the hospital and that he had been detained after the attack.

Twenty-nine people, including 20 hostages and two senior police officers were killed in the attack – the worst-ever terrorist attack in Bangladesh’s history.

Meanwhile, police on Friday identified one of several men suspected of killing two policemen and a civilian in a terrorist attack that targeted a prayer service in northwestern Kishogeranj district a day earlier, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims gathered there to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.

Authorities identified Abir Rahman, 22, as the lone suspect killed in a shootout with police as the attack unfolded near the prayer grounds. Rahman was studying for a bachelor’s of business administration at North South University in Dhaka and hailed from the eastern city of Comilla, police said.

In Dhaka, Shaon’s relatives said he was missing for many hours following the attack, and that they had been searching for him, including holding up his photo in public (see picture). They later found him at the hospital, where police had brought Shaon on Sunday, according to sources.

“My son was very sick. Blood was coming out of his nose and mouth in the morning while he was shivering,” Shaon’s father, Abdus Sattar, told BenarNews in describing the state in which he found his son at the hospital.

The father alleged that his son had been beaten and had not received immediate medical attention following his arrest.

Conflicting reports

However, on Friday it remained unclear whether more than one suspect was captured alive when security forces stormed the upscale restaurant on Saturday, freeing 13 surviving hostages. Initial reports said that six suspected terrorists were killed and one was captured alive during the operation.

Bangladeshi authorities changed the information, saying that the sixth slain man, Saiful Islam Chowdhury, who worked as a pizza maker at the café, was mistaken for a terrorist when he was shot. Eventually, authorities changed their information again, saying that Chowdhury may have, in fact, been collaborating with the hostage takers. Their victims included nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, a U.S.-Bangladeshi dual citizen and two Bangladeshis.

On Monday, Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque announced that two suspected militants who were arrested in connection with the attack had been hospitalized, but he did not disclose their identities.

Hoque’s information seemed to conflict with details given later in the week by army officials and the prime minister, who said that one suspect had been captured alive when the standoff ended.

10 young men still missing

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack on the café located in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter. After the crisis was over, the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based website that monitors extremist chatter and communications online, published photos of five men that were released by IS and whom, IS claimed, were Islamic State fighters who carried out the attack in Dhaka.

Parents and relatives of the five men, who identified their bodies, which are still in police custody, told BenarNews that they were also the men shown in the IS-disseminated photos.

Most of these five young men were members of Bangladesh’s elite, who were educated or were pursing degrees at some of the country’s most prestigious schools.

All five men had been missing from their families for several months, friends and relatives told BenarNews.

They were among a group of 15 young men who have been missing for months. Police are now searching for the 10 others.

The 10 have been identified as  Mohammad Bashruzzaman, from Dhaka; Zunaid Khan, from Badda; Nazibullah Ansari, from Chanpainawabganj; Ashraf Mohammad Islam, from Dhaka; Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, from Sylhet; Ibrahim Hasan Khan, from Dhaka; A.T.M. Tajuddin, from Lakkhipur; Zubaidur Rahim from Dhaka; Mohammad Saifullah Ojaki, from Sylhet ; and Junnun Shikder.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged parents or guardians of other missing children, whose disappearances have not been reported, to notify the authorities at once.

“We have learned that many college and university students are missing. Don’t just file a GD [police General Diary report], give us all the information and photos,” Hasina said in a speech on Thursday, according to Reuters.

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