Bangladeshi professor held for renting flat to attackers

DHAKA — Police have arrested a professor from an elite university alleging that he had rented a flat to gunmen who attacked a cafe in Dhaka earlier this month and killed 20 hostages.

In the first arrests police have made outside the cafe, Gias Uddin Ahsan of the private North South University was detained late on Saturday along with two other people and is expected to appear in a court in the capital to face charges.

Police allege that in May he rented a flat he owns — without registering the tenants’ information as required by law — to some of the gunmen responsible for the attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The professor was arrested for “renting the house to the Gulshan (cafe) attackers and hiding information,” police said in a statement, adding that the men had “gathered at the flat” prior to the attack.

Bangladesh authorities made submitting tenants’ information to the nearest police station mandatory in recent years as part of efforts to curb crime and extremist activities.

The other two people who were arrested included a nephew of the professor and the manager of the apartment building.

Police seized sand-filled cartons from the flat, which they suspect were used for storing grenades, the statement added.

At the time of the cafe siege police said they had detained two people including a teenage kitchen assistant, who died in custody, with his family alleging torture.

Rights groups have also expressed concern for two attack survivors they say are being held by investigators, though police deny the two are in their custody.

NSU, Bangladesh’s leading private university which caters to children of the country’s elite, has come under scrutiny before after its students were linked to extremist activities. — Reuters

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