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2 Men Arrested over Bangladesh Cafe Attack | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Army soldiers take their positions near the Holey Artisan restaurant after militants attacked the upscale cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 2, 2016. Mahmud Hossain Opu/Handout via REUTERS

Two men who had not been heard from since last month’s cafe attack in Bangladesh were arrested Thursday on suspicion of involvement in the deadly siege carried out by jihadists.

British national Hasnat Karim and University of Toronto student Tahmid Hasib Khan were arrested in different areas of the capital, Dhaka.

“We can confirm they were arrested under Section 54 of CrPC (criminal procedure),” police spokesman A.K.M Shahidur Rahman told Agence France Presse, referring to a law under which police can detain someone for suspicion of any crime.

A court later remanded both men in custody for eight days, deputy commissioner of Dhaka police Aminur Rahman told AFP.

Karim, 47, and 22-year-old Khan were both inside the Holey Artisan Bakery when gunmen raided the cafe on the night of July 1, taking a group of mainly Western diners hostage and then killing 20 of them, along with two policemen.

But neither man has been seen in public since the end of the siege when commandos stormed the cafe in the capital’s upmarket Gulshan neighborhood on the morning of July 2.

Karim was in the restaurant with his wife and two daughters and the family had said they were there to celebrate the birthday of their daughter while Khan’s relatives said he was there with two friends.

But a South Korean man from a nearby apartment had shot a video of the scene in the restaurant in which Karim was seen talking to the attackers.

Police also said there were photographs showing Karim smoking on the rooftop of the building with two of the attackers standing behind him.

Karim had lived in the UK for nearly 20 years and returned to Bangladesh a few years ago when he began teaching in a private university in Dhaka.

Later, he was under investigation for his alleged involvement with the banned Hizbut Tahrir.

He left the university in 2012 and became a businessman. One of the attackers has been identified as his former student.

“Hasnat Karim is innocent and should be released immediately,” his London-based lawyer, Rodney Dixon, told Reuters, adding that Karim had not been charged with any crime. “He has no links to any terrorist group or organization.”