Dhaka cafe attack: Bangladeshi tribunal accepts murder charges against 8 ‘Islamic militants’

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DHAKA, Aug 8 (PTI): A Bangladeshi special tribunal on Wednesday accepted murder charges against eight suspected Islamic State militants in the 2016 Dhaka cafe terror attack in which 20 hostages, including an Indian girl and 17 others from Japan and Italy, were killed.

Six of the accused are behind bars, while two are fugitives.

On the night of July 1, 2016, five militants stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery and took several dozen foreigners and locals hostages.

The militants were killed by police commandoes inside the cafe during a 12-hour standoff. Two security officials later succumbed to injuries in a hospital.

“The Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal took into cognisance the police charge for trial after the hearing on the charge sheet,” prosecution lawyer Golam Sarwar Khan told reporters here.

Judge Mojibur Rahman ordered the police to arrest the two fugitives and set the next hearing for August 16.

The tribunal also ordered the release of a Bangladeshi-Briton, Hasnat Karim, who was arrested from the attack scene for his suspected militant links, after police investigation found no evidence of his terror link.

The police probe has found involvement of 21 people in the attack. Of the 21 militants, five were killed by commandoes at the crime scene, while 13 others died in subsequent anti-terror clampdowns.

The six accused named in the charge sheet have already confessed to their involvement in the attack.

The charge sheet came two years after the case was filed with police attributing the delay to “complexities in obtaining information” as all the militants who staged the clandestine attack were killed.

According to investigators, a domestic militant group, Neo Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB), inclined to Islamic State or IS philosophy, is suspected to have staged the attack to draw international attention and make their presence felt in the Muslim majority nation.

In 2015, Bangladeshi-origin Canadian Tamim Chowdhury, who was the supremo of the Neo-JMB, was killed in security clampdown.

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