An anti-terrorism special tribunal in Bangladesh on Monday recorded the statement of first witness in the 2016 terror attack case, three years after the country's deadliest attack killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, including an Indian national.
Twenty-two people--an Indian girl, nine Italians, seven Japanese and five Bangladeshis, including two police officers--were killed in the attack.
Six of the eight accused, who had earlier confessed to their involvement in the attack, appeared before the court on Monday amid heavy police security to face the trial. The other two accused are on the run, but were being tried in absentia.
All the accused belonged to the banned Neo-JMB.
The trial of in the case began on November 26, when the court indicted them after reviewing the police charge sheet.
During investigations, it was found that that 21 people were involved in the assault, but police said 13 of them died in subsequent anti-terrorism clampdown.
They said only five militants staged the carnage and all of them were killed on the July 2 in a raid by the military commandos.
The Neo-JMB, said to be inclined to Islamic State or IS, executed the carnage sparking an uproar globally and signalling the strong presence of militants in the Muslim-majority country.
The outfit emerged as the revived chapter of the radical Islamist group.
Counter terrorism unit chief of Bangladesh Police, Monirul Islam earlier said the police gathered 75 pieces of evidence for the trial and mobilised 211 witnesses to the carnage to testify before the court.
Investigators alleged that the militants staged the attack to announce their strong presence in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh and particularly show their brutality by killing foreigners and draw international attention.
They said since late 2015, the Neo-JMB militants, led by Bangladeshi-origin Canadian Tamim Chowdhury, killed in a subsequent security clampdown, were carrying out small scale attacks on foreigners and non-Muslims.
Assailants gunned down two police officers and injured over 20 others when they approached the restaurant.
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