Militants are spreading online propaganda about terrorist attacks as many people are spending more time on religious sites on the internet while staying at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam on Wednesday.
He said this after paying tribute to the 2016 Holey Artisan attack victims.
Four years ago, on July 1, gunmen burst into the Holey Artisan cafe in the capital's Gulshan area. They opened fire and took diners hostage at gunpoint.
At least 22 foreign and local people were killed by the youth militant group known as Neo JMB, which was inspired by the Islamic State (IS).
The DMP commissioner said, "The militants are carrying out massive propaganda at this time of coronavirus pandemic. They are inciting lone wolf or solo attacks, especially to attack police members."
He described the Holey Artisan attack as "the biggest militant attack we have faced since the 1971 war of liberation".
"In the aftermath of the Holey Artisan attack, the security arrangements of police have been streamlined, and we have a clear idea of the capabilities of those involved in militancy," Shafiqul said.
The DMP commissioner further said, "We demolished the militant hideouts one after another since the Holey Artisan attack, and their capacity has now reached the lowest level."
"All of their big experts have been captured. They are in jail. Many have been killed in various operations. So now they do not have that kind of ability," he added.
Every year,families of the victims of the attack and the authorities concerned gather at the site to pay tribute. This year, just a few families paid tribute and they demanded a quick pronouncement of the case verdict.
Shamsuzzaman Sham, younger brother of slain Robiul Islam, who was an assistant commissioner of the detective branch of police, said that they could not join this year's programme due to the pandemic.
"Also, we had a few arrangements in our Manikganj village where Robiul established a school for the under-privileged and orphans. Four years have gone by, but still we could not forget that night. All we want is no more death from militancy in this land," he added.
The Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, Ito Naoki, paid tribute. He laid a wreath at the site of the attack and the monument commemorating the heroic police officers, who sacrificed their lives on that day while performing their duties, according to the Japanese embassy in Dhaka.
Hayakawa, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) Bangladesh office, Hirata, former chief representative of JICA Bangladesh office, and Muraki, Oriental Consultants Global's acting general manager, also attended the ceremony.
At the programme, Ambassador Ito Naoki expressed condolence for the victims who lost their lives in the tragedy.
He also stressed the importance of remembering their contribution to the development of Bangladesh and reconfirmed, together with the chief representative of JICA Bangladesh and others, that they would advance the support for the development of Bangladesh by taking the maximum safety and security measures.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun said militancy is under control in the country, but this success must be maintained to eradicate the roots of militancy.
He said, "Militancy is a global problem. The whole world is working to combat militant groups. I think we have successfully implemented counter-insurgency activities and we hope that this success will continue."
"We cannot afford to be complacent," he said.
Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun also said RAB forces have been conducting various anti-militant operations in the country since the Holey Artisan attack.