Bangladesh: Key coordinator of Dhaka cafe attack killed in gunfight with police

The attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's diplomatic area in July last year killed at least 20 civilians, including 17 foreign nationals. One of those killed was a 19-year-old Indian girl,?Tarishi Jain. Photograph:( Getty )

Dhaka, Bangladesh Jan 06, 2017, 03.14 AM (IST) Saad Hammadi

Bangladesh police said Nurul Islam Marzan, a key coordinator of the attack on an upscale Dhaka cafe last July which left at least 20 people dead in its wake, was killed Friday morning in a gunfight with police. 

Another man who is a suspect in the murders of Hindu priest Jogeshwar Roy, Hossain Ali, a Christian convert from Islam, and Japanese national Hoshi Kunio was also killed in the gunfight, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime chief Monirul Islam confirmed to WION.

Ali was killed in March last year. Roy in February, and Kunio in October 2015.

The Holey Artisan bakery and O'Kitchen restaurant after it was retaken by Bangladeshi army commandos. (Reuters)

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Security forces said Marzan was a key coordinator of the July attack, and that the terrorists who had taken hold of the cafe had shared photographs of the atrocities they committed inside with Marzan via encrypted messages.

Police said Marzan was a member of the neo Jamaatul Mujhideen Bangladesh and had been involved in the "motivational training" of militants in the country.

A student of the department of Arabic at Chittagong University, Marzan disappeared from the radar in January last year.

The attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's diplomatic area in July last year killed at least 20 civilians, including 17 foreign nationals. One of those killed was a 19-year-old Indian girl, Tarishi Jain. 

After a nearly 13-hour hostage crisis, Bangladesh Army commados launched "Operation Thunderbolt" to retake the cafe. Five terrorists were killed in the operation. 

Islamic State later released photographs of the five terrorists and claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Monirul Islam had earlier told WION that his counter-terrorist unit was hunting three militants, including Marzan, on priority.

Syed Ziaul Haque, chief of the Ansar Al Islam, an Al-Qaida affiliate in the Indian subcontinent, and Mynul Musa, a leader of the neo JMB, are the other two terrorists. They are still at large.

"There has been an effort by the law enforcement agencies to gradually fold up or dismantle some of the key networks that they have identified and go after some of the top leadership of the neo JMB and some of the other groups which have become very prominent in recent times," said Shafqat Munir, a security analyst with the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. 

An awkward silence

Despite the coordinated efforts of security forces, which has resulted in the killing of at least 28 suspected militants since the July attack, Dhaka has been experiencing an awkward "silence".

But the absence of more attacks since the July one last year cannot rule out the possibility of terrorists having more cards under their sleeves, warned Brigadier General (Retd.) Sakhawat Hussain, a security analyst. 

"There are serious challenges that still remain in our path," Munir told WION.

Analysts also caution that terrorist networks are not confined to key leadership alone, and that law enforcement agencies need to keep a close eye on sleeper cells and other parts of the networks.  

(WION)