ISIS 'behind deadly siege'

DHAKA • The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group has claimed responsibility for the carnage at a restaurant in the capital city, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors terrorist activity.

It said the claim was made online by a media group linked to ISIS.

However, Western intelligence officials say they have not verified the claim and are still trying to determine precisely who was behind the attack.

The identities and nationalities of the Holey Artisan Bakery attackers have not yet been released.

Bangladesh security officials reportedly blamed two local militant organisations, Ansar-al-Islam and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, as the culprits instead. The Ansar-al-Islam group pledges allegiance to Al-Qaeda, while Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen claims it represents ISIS.

CHILLING MESSAGE

They are trying to create a high-profile incident to drive home the message that they can attack any time, anywhere.

MR JAMES MORIARTY, former US ambassador to Bangladesh.

"The bottom line is Bangladesh has plenty of local, often unaffiliated, militants and radicals happy to stage attacks in ISIS' name," said Mr Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Wilson Centre in Washington, DC.

ISIS had claimed more attacks in Bangladesh than in Pakistan or Afghanistan, he said. But Bangladesh has long denied the presence of ISIS operatives in the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a televised speech yesterday that she was determined to eradicate militancy in the mainly Muslim nation after heavily armed terrorists killed 20 people at Dhaka's Holey Artisan Bakery in a stand-off with law enforcers that ended early yesterday morning.

"They (gunmen) should have been in their Tarabi prayers at that time - during the month of Ramadan, a month of self-restraint," Ms Hasina said.

"What sort of Muslims are they that they don't offer prayers and, instead, do such a thing? And what has been the result? None of the attackers could get away with their lives."

Ms Hasina also came down hard on private television channels for their live telecast of the offensive launched against the gunmen at the restaurant.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'ISIS 'behind deadly siege''. Print Edition | Subscribe