Evidence to link Bangladesh extremists to Islamic State: John Kerry

Referring to the recent spate of attacks, Kerry promised help with intelligence and law enforcement. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Dhaka, Bangladesh Aug 29, 2016, 03.43 PM (IST)
US secretary of state John Kerry said today there was evidence to link operatives in Bangladesh to the Islamic State group.

Referring to the recent spate of attacks, Kerry promised help with intelligence and law enforcement. 

The blunt statement followed the July 1 attack on a cafe in an upscale district of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, in which 22 people were killed - mostly non-Muslims and foreigners, including one American.

The statement, however, contradicted the narrative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government, which has blamed homegrown militants and denied a foreign hand in the hostage taking at the Holey Artisan Bakery that was claimed by Islamic State.

Bangladesh's government has staunchly denied that IS or any international jihadist network has gained a foothold in the country.

Kerry however rejected the idea that Hasina`s administration was in denial about the nature of the extremist threat that it faced, the AFP reported.

"I don't believe that the government of Bangladesh has its head in the sand. I do not believe that," the report quoted him as saying in a speech in Dhaka where he was paying a one-day visit.

According to AFP, the top US diplomat said that the two governments had agreed on increased cooperation between their respective intelligence agencies.

"The (foreign) minister (Mahmood Ali) was very, and the prime minister was very clear (at) the desire to cooperate with us very very closely," he said.

The cafe raid was the most shocking of a series of atrocities that has included killings of atheist intellectuals, people from religious and sexual minorities and foreigners, raising fears over the stability of the mainly Muslim nation of 160 million.

(WION with inputs from AFP, Reuters)