Bangladesh’s prime minister has said Islamist terrorists are “maligning the name of Islam” in response to a terror attack in Dhaka which killed at least 22 people.
Sheikh Hasina asked: “What kind of Muslims are these who kill others during Ramadan?” during her second televised address to the nation following the terror attack on a Dhaka cafe which saw jihadists torture and massacre 22 people on Friday evening.
She said: “I want to ask those who are aiding terror, what do you get by taking innocent lives? Islam is a religion of peace, you are maligning its name.
“Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such an act. They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism.”
Ms Hasina did not directly comment on Isis' claim of responsibility for the attack – her government has previously denied the group has a presence in Bangladesh – and instead accused opposition parties of orchestrating violence to destablise the country.
In total, 13 hostages were released by jihadists but nine Italians, seven Japanese people, an Indian teenager, two Americans and a Bangladeshi woman were killed.
Two local policemen were also killed in the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe.
The father of a survivor told Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper that hostages were rounded up and asked to recite from the Quran to prove they were Muslim.
Rezaul Karim said: “Those who could recite a verse or two were spared. The others were tortured.”
Photographs released by an Isis-affiliated propaganda agency allegedly show five of the militants who carried out the attack dressed in black with Arab-style headscarves, smiling and posing with assault rifles in front of the group’s flag.
Isis gave all of the men pictured war names ending in “al-Bengali” – suggesting they were from Bangladesh.
Police said six gunmen were killed in the explosion with one more caught alive.
The cafe is popular with tourists and expats and is situated in the affluent diplomatic quarters of Dhaka near several international embassies.
Ms Hasina said she would eradicate extremism from the country.
She said: “People must resist these terrorists. My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh.”
The attack followed an increasing number of attacks on Bangladeshi academics and well-known atheist bloggers by Islamist extremists.
Last month, al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for the murder of an LGBT magazine editor who was killed in his Dhaka apartment by a group of men posing as couriers.
Isis supporters also claimed responsibility for hacking an elderly Hindu priest to death as he made his way to his temple in Karatipara, Jhenaidah district in June.
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