The timing, the goal and the message of the daring assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka was loud and clear.
The Islamist militants struck on the final weekend earlier than the Muslim non secular pageant of Eid al-Fitr. Dozens of diners had been on the cafe, which is in style amongst foreigners and middle-class Bangladeshis.
The Gulshan district is a high-security space and regarded among the many most secure locations within the capital. A number of embassies and non-governmental organisations are primarily based within the neighbourhood and a whole lot of foreigners and rich Bangladeshis stay there.
The federal government had stepped up safety after an Italian help employee was killed within the space by suspected militants in 2015. It’s tough to journey by means of Gulshan with out passing by means of a safety examine put up. However the newest assault has proven that even Gulshan will not be protected.
Over the previous three years, greater than 40 individuals have been killed in Bangladesh by suspected Islamists. However the assaults had been principally concentrating on people – secular bloggers, writers, activists, lecturers and members of non secular minorities.
The assault on the cafe was on a unique scale. It appears to have been properly deliberate and properly co-ordinated.
The militant group Islamic State says it carried out the assault though the federal government up to now has denied its presence within the nation. However the co-ordinated assault has underlined issues that international Islamic teams could also be securing a presence in Bangladesh.
The Bangladeshi authorities has come underneath criticism for what many specialists describe as a “state of denial” on the presence of more and more assertive Islamist teams within the nation.
The federal government argues the assaults are sporadic and that it is extremely a lot in management. It factors out that the highly effective Bangladeshi military is properly educated and well-equipped to face any threats. However the rising violence is prone to trigger vital injury to the nation’s picture and, extra importantly, set off insecurity amongst non secular minorities within the nation.
“After a spate of assaults on minorities, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in Bangladesh are feeling insecure and helpless,” says Rana Dasgupta, Normal Secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council.
“The fundamentalist forces try to drive us in another country. However the authorities has initiated some motion towards the militants and our prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is honest in combating fundamentalism and terrorism.”
Bangladesh’s efforts in tackling extremism and militancy have been counseled by the USA and neighbouring India. A decade in the past, the South Asian nation was gripped by fundamentalist violence, however over time, successive governments, notably the governing Awami League, have taken stern motion towards Islamist militants.
The federal government has additionally co-ordinated a number of counter-terrorism measures with Western nations. However extremist-related violent incidents are on the rise once more.
Following widespread criticism over the rise in violence up to now few years, the federal government launched a concerted drive towards militants by arresting 1000’s of individuals. However the principle opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Get together (BNP), says the federal government is utilizing the operation to focus on political opponents.
Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority nation and sometimes seen as a mannequin Muslim nation due to its secular values and its development-oriented insurance policies.
After years of political violence, it has been having fun with some form of stability. The nation’s economic system has been rising constantly at a charge of 6-7% for a number of years. The soundness has additionally attracted many international buyers, and the worldwide clothes trade seems as much as Bangladesh.
Final 12 months, Bangladesh exported greater than $25bn ($18.8bn) of ready-made garments, principally to Western nations. The thriving clothes trade and remittances from Bangladeshis working overseas have additionally helped to carry thousands and thousands of individuals out of poverty. A whole bunch of foreigners, a lot of them businessmen, go to Bangladesh because the nation nonetheless provides loads of alternatives.
It’s clear that the federal government has been caught unaware, and the cafe assault exposes a giant gap in Bangladesh’s intelligence-gathering and safety system. Some even query the federal government’s political will and dedication.
Because of this, there are issues that if the federal government fails to recognise its shortcomings, it might find yourself reversing years of financial progress and stability.