DHAKA, Aug 4 – Police in Bangladesh will bring to court on Thursday two men held over their suspected involvement in an attack claimed by militant group Daesj on a cafe in the capital, Dhaka, that killed 20 hostages, mostly foreigners.
Gunmen stormed the cafe last month in one of the most brazen attacks in the South Asian nation’s history, killing non-Muslims and foreigners – including Italians, Japanese and an American – before security forces ended the 12-hour siege.
Police said they had arrested Hasnat Karim, who has dual British and Bangladeshi citizenship, and Tahmid Hasib Khan, a student of Toronto University, over the July 1 attack.
“Both of them were arrested on Wednesday night from two separate places,” Masudur Rahman, a Dhaka police official, told reporters.
“Today they will be produced in the court and police will seek a 10-day remand to interrogate them,” he added.
The police assertion of arrests at different sites appeared to run counter to relatives’ statements that the men were held at unknown locations after the attack and denied access to a lawyer.
“Hasnat Karim is innocent and should be released immediately,” his London-based lawyer, Rodney Dixon, told Reuters, adding that Karim had not been charged with any crime. “He has no links to any terrorist group or organisation.”
Both were guests at the Holey Artisan Bakery at the time of the attack and their subsequent detention has been criticised by rights group Amnesty International as denying them their fundamental right to legal representation.
The formal arrests take to seven the tally for the cafe attack, which the government blames on local militants, along with another, on July 26, in which police killed nine militants believed to be plotting a similar assault.
The government has dismissed suggestions that Daesh has a presence in Bangladesh.
Karim and Khan were among 32 survivors rescued by police and taken into custody for questioning. Even after police released the rest, however, the two men’s families said they had not returned.
Karim was at the cafe with his family to celebrate his daughter’s 13th birthday while Khan’s family said he was there with two friends.
“The authorities have finally admitted that Mr Karim is in their custody,” Dixon said in a statement.
“They have had more than sufficient time to make any inquiries. There is clearly no evidence to charge him and he should be let go without any further delay.”
No comment was immediately available from Khan’s family or representative.
In the past year, al Qaeda and Daesh have made competing claims over the killings of liberals and religious minorities in the mostly Muslim nation of 160 million.