Bangladesh commemorates cafe attack on 2nd anniversary

Sunday , July 01, 2018 - 6:12 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Dozens of Bangladeshis, Japanese and Italians gathered Sunday on the second anniversary of an attack by Islamist militants in Bangladesh’s capital in which 20 people were killed.

Foreign delegates, activists and family members of the victims gathered at the Holey Artisan Bakery site amid a vow to fight militancy in the Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people.

The old premises of the cafe were opened for four hours on Sunday to allow visitors to pay their respects. The visitors placed flowers at the site, while separately tributes were also paid at a commemorative sculpture in Dhaka to honor the two Bangladeshi police officers killed in the attack.

In the July 1, 2016, attack, five militants belonging to Jumatual Mujahedeen Bangladesh, or JMB, targeted the cafe and killed 20 hostages, including 17 from Japan, Italy and India. Two security officials succumbed to their injuries in a hospital, while commandoes killed the five attackers.

The cafe attack followed several years of smaller attacks targeting scores of individuals deemed by extremists to be enemies of radical Islam, including secularists, writers, religious minorities, foreigners and activists.

Benazir Ahmed, director general of the Rapid Action Battalion security agency, said at the scene Sunday that the agency vowed to eliminate militancy.

“We pray for the eternal peace of all the departed souls who were killed here. We offer our condolences to the victims’ family members,” Ahmed said.

Also on Sunday, another top police official said the investigation into the case was complete and charges are expected to be filed soon.

Since the attack, authorities have captured and killed dozens of suspects, and said JMB has been weakened if not eliminated completely. Bangladesh has experienced a rise in Islamic militancy in recent years, but the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched a massive crackdown and said it is following a policy of zero tolerance in the fight against radical Islamists.

The cafe reopened in January last year, a few blocks away from its old site.

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