NEW DELHI – Police were questioning family members of five attackers who stormed an upscale restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone and killed police officers and hostages before they were fatally shot by security forces over the weekend, an officer said Wednesday.
The police officer said parents and relatives of the five young Bangladeshi men were questioned Tuesday and some again on Wednesday. The officer declined to give details and spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
The officer also said authorities have freed three of five former hostages they had been holding for questioning. Authorities were looking into the backgrounds of these people and questioning their families and friends.
Police have eight people in custody, including one described as an attacker, but no one has been arrested as a suspect.
Two police officers and 20 hostages – nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian and three students at American universities – were killed. Thirteen hostages were rescued when security forces stormed the restaurant Saturday morning. Authorities said security forces, civilians and some hostages were injured but have not given details.
The bodies of the Italian and Japanese victims were returned to their home countries Tuesday.
The hostage siege was the worst of recent militant attacks in Bangladesh, after previous killings were carried out by young men wielding cleavers and machetes and targeting atheists and other individuals accused of being enemies of Islam. The escalation has raised global concerns about whether the South Asian country can cope with increasingly strident Islamist militants.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bangladesh police have said they are investigating whether the attackers had IS links, though the government has blamed domestic militant organizations bent on imposing Islamic rule.