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Dhaka attack masterminds identified: Bangladesh minister

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Dhaka(Bangladesh), July 17, 2016: Gunmen killed 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, in a gruesome 12-hour siege at a restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone on July 1.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday claimed the police have identified the masterminds of the Gulshan attack.

“Those who were behind the attack have been specifically identified,” he told reporters at his secretariat office in the city. He, however, did not go into any detail about the identities of the masterminds.

Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said they made a “significant progress” in the probe into the Gulshan attack case and identified the places the militants were staying and being trained.

“We are now working to bring those involved to book after reviewing the information,” he told a press conference at the media centre of DMP.

The DMP organised the conference on safety and security issues.

The city police chief said only five to six terrorists cannot commit such a big crime. “Terrorists were being recruited and trained. Some people instigated them; gave them shelter and arms.”

Police were trying to trace the instigators and masterminds of the attack, he added.

Asked whether several people reportedly arrested by the Indian authorities were involved in the incident, the DMP commissioner said law enforcers did not have any such information.

The people so far found involved in the incident are Bangladeshi citizens, he said, adding that they were not ruling out involvement of any national and international quarters.

Asaduzzaman said different quarters were working to destabilise the country. “Trial of war criminals is underway. We are not ruling out any probable suspects who in the recent past created anarchy in the country in the name of movement.”

Asked if the militants were able to enter the high-security diplomatic zone and carry out the massacre due to negligence in duties by policemen, the DMP chief said only an investigation would determine whether there was any negligence on the part of cops.

On July 1, armed militants, evading some police checkpoints, swooped on Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan and killed 20 people — nine Italian, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, an Indian and a Bangladesh-born US citizen.

The attackers also killed two police officers who tried to end the hostage-taking soon after the incident began around 8:40pm.

The 11-hour hostage crisis ended when army commandos stormed the café around 8:00am on July 2. In the operation, code-named Thunderbolt, five militants and a chef of the café were killed.

Law enforcers said the chef was a suspect, because he “helped” the terrorists. His family, however, denied the allegation.

Another café employee, detained by cops as a suspect, later died of injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The hostage-taking came following a spate of targeted killings of secular writers, bloggers, publishers, university teachers and religious leaders across the country over the last three years.

Global terror outfit Islamic State took credit for the Gulshan attack, but the government denied the claim, saying that home-grown militants were to blame.