Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed anger yesterday over the grisly massacre of seven Japanese citizens working on an infrastructure project in Bangladesh during Friday’s Islamist terror attack in Dhaka.
Twenty hostages, most of them foreign, were killed when Islamist militants stormed a cafe in Dhaka’s diplomatic district, taking hostages and hacking victims to death during the hours-long stand-off with police.
The seven Japanese victims were part of a group working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the government’s overseas development body, on an infrastructure development project to ease the heavy traffic in the capital.
"I am at a loss for words when I think of how unfortunate this was for the victims," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters yesterday. "This is an unforgivable act of terrorism."
The head of JICA also expressed anger at the attack, for which the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.
"I cannot hold back my anger against terrorists," JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka said during a press conference at JICA’s headquarters in Tokyo yesterday.
Security forces reportedly moved into the restaurant to rescue the hostages after a 10-hour standoff, which started at about 9:30pm local time.
"Engineers who strived for the development of Bangladesh were involved in the incident, and I feel strong resentment," JICA chief Shinichi Kitaoka said.
I am at a loss for words when I think of how unfortunate this was for the victims. This is an unforgivable act of terrorism– Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister
According Japanese media, the dead included two women and five men, one in his 80s.
Three of the victims were employed by Tokyo-based construction consulting company Almec Corp.
Another worked for the Tokyo-based construction consulting firm Katahira & Engineers International.
The other three killed were connected to Tokyo-based consulting firm Oriental Consultants Global Co.
An eighth Japanese citizen and part of the JICA group – also an Almec employee – was rescued after being shot in the face.
Relatives of the victims left for Bangladesh aboard a Japanese government aircraft on Sunday evening.
According to the Foreign Ministry, official development assistance by the Japanese government to Bangladesh has soared over the past several years, totaling about Â¥126 billion ($1.2bn) in fiscal 2014.
JICA projects in Bangladesh have included building large scale social infrastructure such as bridges, roads and power plants, tackling poverty, implementing disaster countermeasures.
Japanese media report an atmosphere of fear in Bangladesh among Japanese citizens there. A Japanese school in Dhaka cancelled classes today, while Japanese companies and organisations with branches in the country urged their employees to stay indoors or to come back to Japan.
According to CNN, Bangladeshi authorities said the 20 slain hostages included 11 males and nine females. The nationalities included nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian, two Bangladeshis and one U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin.