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Bangladesh Mourns Victims in Dhaka Attack

  • VOA News

An unidentified woman brings flowers to pay respect to the people who died at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.

An unidentified woman brings flowers to pay respect to the people who died at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.

Bangladesh is observing the second of two days of mourning after a group of seven Islamist militants killed 20 hostages and two police officers during an 11-hour siege at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka.

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday evening, and mourners left flowers at memorials near the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's diplomatic zone, the scene of the attack, which started Friday night.

In Rome, the Campidoglio Palace was illuminated with the colors of the Italian flag as a memorial to the nine Italian victims.

The families of seven Japanese killed in the attacks departed for Bangladesh on Sunday to retrieve the remains of their relatives.Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with the families before they left and promised to give them government support.

A Bangladeshi boy holds a Spiderman toy in one hand and a lighted candle in the other as he joins elders in paying tribute to those killed in the attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.

A Bangladeshi boy holds a Spiderman toy in one hand and a lighted candle in the other as he joins elders in paying tribute to those killed in the attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.

Bangladesh denies IS involvement

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, but any direct connection to the militant group has not been confirmed, and government officials deny IS involvement.

Bangladesh's home minister said Sunday the seven attackers, six of whom were killed, had absolutely no connection with Islamic State. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said instead the jihadists were members of a homegrown militant group - Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, or JMB - which has been banned in the country for more than a decade. Khan said all of the attackers were well-educated and came from wealthy families.

Reuters news agency also quoted national police chief Shahidul Hoque as saying the seven militants were all Bangladeshis, and that authorities had tried to arrest five of them in the past.

Kerry calls Hasina

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday to express condolences and offer support. A State Department release said Kerry "encouraged the government of Bangladesh to conduct its investigation in accordance with the highest international standards." He also offered assistance from U.S. law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Bangladeshi police released photos and the first names of five of the six attackers who were killed.Police said their families had not been in contact with them for months.

The government has long insisted IS has no presence in the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has blamed a string of attacks in the country on her political foes, saying they back militant groups in the country in an attempt to create chaos.

Bangladeshi security forces block a road in Dhaka, July 2, 2016.

Bangladeshi security forces block a road in Dhaka, July 2, 2016.

Widespread condemnation

The White House and the U.S. Department of State condemned the attack and said the United States stands with Bangladesh and is resolved to confront terror wherever it occurs.

A U.N. spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes those behind the attack will be brought to justice and that regional and international efforts to prevent and fight terrorism must be intensified.

In a televised address to the nation Saturday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina said her country would not let "conspirators succeed in their mission" to tarnish its image.She urged all citizens of Bangladesh to "come forward and help fight terrorism."

Kamal Hossain, a former foreign minister and law minister of Bangladesh, told VOA's Urdu Service that terrorism has nothing to do with religion, therefore Islamic State (IS) is not representative of Islam or the Muslim world.

Hossain said the whole world should adopt a unified policy to deal with terrorist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaida.

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