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Bangladesh cafe attack: Japan, Italy and US mourn dead hostages

ghhTwenty hostages were killed in the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka that police ended by force on Saturday. They were construction consultants from Japan, Italian businesspeople in textiles and three students from American universities.

Two of the students were studying at Emory University in Georgia: Faraaz Hossain from Dhaka and Abinta Kabir from Miami, Florida, who was visiting family and friends in Bangladesh.

The third, 18-year-old Tarishi Jain, was an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She was an Indian citizen, whose father, Sanjeev Jain, moved to Bangladesh nearly two decades ago and runs a garment business there.

Jain was a frequent visitor to Holey Artisan Bakery, a western-style restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the city, near her home.

“The country is with them in this hour of grief,” said India’s minister for external affairs, Sushma Swaraj. Jain’s body will be flown to New Delhi on Monday, and the cremation will take place in the northern Indian town of Firozabad, her family’s hometown.

Kabir was entering Emory’s Oxford College as a sophomore, and Hossain was a graduate of Oxford College and a student at the university’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta.

Both were active on the student activities committee executive board at Oxford. Fellow student Kereisha Harrell said they were also part of an honor society that required a GPA of 3.9 or higher.

“We are honestly shocked,” Harrell said. “A lot of us are not ready to talk about it. But we were a family. It hit us hard. There are a lot of people very upset. We’re just trying to support each other through this.”

Their lives intersected with those of the Japanese and Italian victims at the Holey Artisan Bakery, a popular hangout for the relatively well-heeled in the Gulshan diplomatic enclave. By Saturday morning, after security forces stormed the restaurant to end a 10-hour siege, they were dead. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted citizens of what it called “Crusader countries”.

An Italian woman who is friends with an Italian who survived said the three students were dining in the garden when the attackers saw them and ordered them inside, where they were killed.

Agnese Barolo was dining with the Italian ambassador at the embassy a few blocks away when Gianni Boschetti, who would survive after hiding behind bushes, phoned the embassy to tell them the attack was under way. Barolo said Boschetti reported that the attackers ordered the students to go inside and “they started to cry; they didn’t want to” go.

Barolo’s son-in-law had been Kabir and Hossain’s soccer coach. Her friend Claudia D’Antona died in the attack. The Italian newspaper Corriere said Boschetti and D’Antona were married last year at the Italian embassy in Dhaka, where a big party was held.

D’Antona worked in clothing and textiles, as did Simona Monti, who was five months pregnant with a boy she planned to name Michelangelo. Maria Rivoli, Marco Tondat and Cristian Rossi, a business manager for Feletto Umberto, also worked in the textiles industry, a crucial sector of Bangladesh’s economy.

The other Italians who died were named as Nadia Benedetti, Claudio Cappelli, Vincenzo D’Allestro and Adele Puglisi.

Transport is a key area of Japanese government aid in Bangladesh. Such work brought together eight technical experts from three Tokyo-based consulting firms, who were eating together when the attack began at 9.20pm. Two women and five men died. One made it out alive.

Tomaoki Watanabe, who was hospitalized after being shot, was one of four employees from Almec, a transportation consultancy with offices in Manila, Hanoi, Jakarta and Ulan Bator, according to its website. The other three – Yuko Sakai, Rui Shimodaira and Makoto Okamura – were killed.

Bangladesh has seen a rising tide of violence against both foreigners and locals deemed enemies of extremist Islam over the past year, and done little to quell it

Okamura’s father, Komakichi Okamura, told Japanese media on Sunday that his 32-year-old son’s death was “unbearable as a parent”. He recalled their last words: “He said, ‘I am leaving now,’ and I said to him to be careful. That was the last conversation I had with him on the telephone.”

Another victim, Koyo Ogasawara, worked for Katahira & Engineers International, a transportation consultancy that has worked on projects in south-east Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The other three were working for Oriental Consultants Global, which is part of a Japanese project to build three bridges for the widening of the national highway from Dhaka to Chittagong. They were identified as Hideki Hashimoto, Nobuhiro Kurosaki and Hiroshi Tanaka.

“We feel very indignant toward the perpetrators, because these people were working hard for the development of Bangladesh,” said Shinichi Kitaoka, the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. He pledged to strengthen security precautions while continuing to contribute to the country’s development.