Initially, a U.S. official told the media it was more likely that al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent conducted this attack because it had demonstrated a more capable presence in Dhaka through attacks over the past few months. But after photos purportedly showing the inside of the cafe and dead hostages were posted on an ISIS-affiliated website, U.S. officials said they are now focused on ISIS as the perpetrator.
The photos were posted on Amaq while the siege was ongoing, with a claim that the extremely graphic images were of foreigners killed by terrorists in the attack.
The fact that the images were posted approximately 90 minutes before Bangladeshi forces stormed the restaurant suggest that several hostages had already been killed before the commandos moved in. While the media can’t verify the authenticity of the photos, the images show wall murals, glossy tables with carved legs, white chairs and other items very similar to those seen on the cafe website.
These photos don’t prove that ISIS had operational control of the attack, but the website also displayed the photos and noms de guerre of five individuals, claiming they carried it out.
Hasina declared two days of mourning for the victims of the massacre, a period that begins Sunday.
One of the dead was an American citizen, authorities said, but it was unclear if that victim was one of three students from universities in the United States. Two of them attended Georgia’s Emory University, including Abinta Kabir of Miami, who was a sophomore at Emory’s campus in Oxford, Georgia. She was in Dhaka visiting family and friends, the school said.
The other was Faraaz Hossain, of Dhaka, a junior who was to attend Emory’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta.
“The Emory community mourns this tragic and senseless loss of two members of our university family. Our thoughts and prayers go out on behalf of Faraaz and Abinta and their families and friends for strength and peace at this unspeakably sad time,” a statement from the university said.
The third student was Indian citizen Tarishi Jain, 19, who was studying at the University of California at Berkeley, according to India’s minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj.
Italy’s foreign ministry named the country’s victims as Adele Puglisi, Marco Tondat, Claudia Maria D’Antona, Nadia Benedetti, Vincenzo D’Allestro, Maria Rivoli, Cristian Rossi, Claudio Cappelli and Simona Monti.
Japan announced Saturday that seven of its nationals are confirmed dead. The victims were corporate employees having dinner with management consultant Tamaoki Watanabe, one of the survivors, said Japanese Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Watanabe and three other Almec VPI employees were on a project for Japan International Corporation Agency, a government-funded organization for international development and cooperation, according to an Almec statement.
The company does not yet know the fate of the other three employees, according to the statement.
The Japanese government, which is not disclosing names at this point, said it would arrange a government flight for the families of victims as early as Sunday.
Japan has sent Vice Foreign Minister Seiji Kihara, along with a team of terrorism experts, to Dhaka.
Two Sri Lankans were among the hostages rescued, officials said.
Hasini said she would form anti-terrorism committees with the police and the public to help identify potential terrorists and plots. She urged the public — and especially parents — to combat religious extremism by teaching children and the misguided to do “the right thing.”
“For those vulnerable and young people who are being misguided, and those that are aiding them, I have one question,” Hasini said. “What do you hope to achieve by killing innocent people? Islam is a religion of peace. End your killing in the name of Islam. Don’t malign our holy religion.”
Workers jump from roof
Witnesses described chaotic scenes when the gunmen burst into the cafe.
Cafe worker Shumon Reza said he saw six to eight gunmen enter the bakery. He escaped as they came in.
“The guests were all lying on the ground under the chairs and tables,” Reza told Boishakhi TV. And we (the employees) escaped in whichever safe way we could. Some went to the roof, others went to other safe spots.”
Shortly after, Reza said, the attackers started throwing explosives
, one after another.
“We thought it wasn’t safe anymore and jumped from the roof,” he said.