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Mind-numbing terror

Her remarks came during a meeting with Japan's State Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara at her official residence Ganabhaban. Describing the terror attack at Gulshan cafe as unfortunate, the Prime Minister said, “we must find out the roots of the culprits who supplied weapons and explosives to the terrorists for the barbaric attack," Ihsanul Karim, Press Secretary to the PM, told the media after the meeting.

Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's upscale diplomatic zone came under attack on Friday evening by gunmen. Seven Japanese nationals were among 20 killed during the attack. Six of the seven Japanese killed in the terror strike were surveyors for Dhaka' s Metrorail project. 

From an Indian perspective, the heart-rending last phone call of nineteen-year-old  Indian girl Tarishi Jain to her father a Bangladesh based garment trader made people across the world misty-eyed. India has vowed to back Bangladesh in it's moment of grief. The disturbing fact is that the attackers were Bangladeshis from affluent families with good educational background.

A law enforcement source told a leading Bangladeshi newspaper that “all of them (attackers) were Bangladeshi nationals aged between 20 and 28”. “All of them were students and communicated at the crime scene in both Bengali and English,” the report quoted the source as saying. Classmates in Bangladesh’s North South University, an expensive private institution, identified one of the attackers as Nibras Islam. The University authorities could not be reached for comment.

 A leading Indian television channel recently carried a report on how toppers in Jammu and Kashmir were turning to militancy.  There seems to be a striking similarity in the way militant outfits are managing to instigate educated youngsters to engineer acts of terror.  In recent months, Bangladesh has seen a spate of attacks targeting the minority Hindus, homosexuals, secular bloggers, intellectuals, and foreign nationals. 

Even though the IS and al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks, the government has maintained the groups have no presence in Bangladesh. The audacity of the attack right in the heart of Bangladesh's highly protected diplomatic enclave was meant to send out a chilling message to the powers that be. 

This quiet, leafy neighbourhood of Gulshan, old-timers say, was founded as a planned model town in 1961 with its own municipal corporation. The area was originally built with the purpose of being exclusively residential. 

However, over the years it metamorphosed into a classy residential area with plush shopping malls and commercial buildings. The diplomatic fraternity made Gulshan its home, and at least two dozen embassies are located in the neighbourhood.

But, the peace and quiet of the oasis was shattered on Saturday morning, as Bangladesh army moved in tanks to take on the terrorists at an early morning commando operation.  India and Bangladesh need to strengthen their intelligence sharing mechanism and share terror inputs regularly. Pakistan's ISI may have had a hand in the attacks, highly placed sources in Bangladesh seemed to suggest on Sunday.

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