DHAKA -- Bangladesh today blamed "homegrown" Islamist terrorists and Pakistan's spy agency ISI for the country's worst terror attack in which 20 hostages were hacked to death, ruling out the role of the Islamic State, as the shocked nation began observing two days of national mourning.
"Let me clear it again, there are no ISIS or al-Qaeda presence or existence in Bangladesh...the hostage-takers were all home-grown terrorists not members of ISIS or any other international Islamist outfits," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told PTI.
A relative tries to console Bangladeshi woman whose son is missing after militants took hostages in a restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka.
"We know them (hostage-takers) along with their ancestors, they all grew here in Bangladesh...they belong to homegrown outfits like JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh)," he said.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the killing of the hostages, mostly foreigners, and two police officers during an 11-hour siege that ended yesterday after the army stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery popular with expats in the diplomatic zone, killing six attackers and capturing one alive.
Hossain Toufique Imam, the political advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said that the way in which the hostages were killed with machetes suggests the role of a local terrorist group, the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen.
Bangladeshi police stand guard outside the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe.
"Pakistan's ISI and Jamaat connection is well known...they want to derail the current government," Imam told a TV channel.
The arrested terrorist chickened out at the last minute and he holds the key to crucial details, he said.
Hostages who were killed include 19-year-old Indian girl Tarushi Jain. Nine Italians, 7 Japanese, one American of Bangladeshi origin, and two Bangladeshis were also among the people who were killed.
Most of those killed were found with their throats slit.
Among those rescued were Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese nationals, media reports said. Around 30 people were injured.
Bangladeshi security officers cordon off an area after heavily armed militants attacked a restaurant in Dhaka.
A police source was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune that all the attackers were Bangladeshi nationals aged between 20 and 28.
Police said the attackers were well-educated and most came from rich families.
"All of them were students and communicated at the crime scene in both Bengali and English," the police source said.
The government has consistently ruled out the presence of the dreaded terror group in the Muslim-majority nation though experts have been maintaining that series of brutal attacks on minorities and secular activists had the hallmarks of ISIS group.
Meanwhile, police have released the photos of the six gunmen killed during the raid by commandos. A seventh was arrested and is being interrogated by Bangladeshi intelligence officers.
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