Police may have shot cafe worker by mistake

Rohan Imtiaz (left), the son of a politician from Bangladesh's ruling party, was one of the gunmen involved in the restaurant attack.
Rohan Imtiaz (left), the son of a politician from Bangladesh's ruling party, was one of the gunmen involved in the restaurant attack.PHOTO: REUTERS TV

DHAKA • Bangladeshi police said yesterday that one of the men they shot dead during the siege of a Dhaka cafe over the weekend may have been a hostage killed by mistake.

The admission came as a politician from Bangladesh's ruling party expressed horror that his son was among the terrorists involved in the attack late last Friday.

Confusion over exactly how many gunmen were involved was at least partly cleared up yesterday when police said that among the six people security forces killed when they stormed the building to end a 12-hour stand-off was Mr Saiful Islam Chowkidar, a pizza-maker at the Holey Artisan restaurant.

"We killed six people in the restaurant. A case has been registered against five. The sixth man was a restaurant employee," a top police official investigating the attack said. "He may not be involved," he said, adding that investigations were continuing.

Mr Imtiaz Khan Babul, the leader of the Awami League party's Dhaka chapter, said his 22-year-old son, Rohan Imtiaz - one of the attackers - had been a top-scoring student whose behaviour gave no hint that he was radicalised before he disappeared last December.

"I was stunned and speechless to learn that my son had done such a heinous thing," a tearful Mr Babul said. "I don't know what changed him. There was nothing that would suggest that he was getting radicalised. He hardly read any religious books."

Another attacker, 18-year-old Meer Saameh Mubasheer, went to the same elite school as Rohan. Mubasheer's father said he was "a victim of his simplicity".

Two of the other attackers are understood to have attended the Kuala Lumpur campus of Australia's Monash University.

One of them, Nibras Islam, was not particularly religious, according to a student who played football with him at a private college in Dhaka between 2009 and 2011. He vanished from the Monash campus sometime last year.

Police believe that the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, orchestrated the attack.

Police are trying to track down six members of JMB who they believe masterminded the attack.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'Police may have shot cafe worker by mistake'. Subscribe