Diplomats want security revisit | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 10, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:00 AM, July 10, 2016

Diplomats want security revisit

Biswal arrives today; international community stands by Dhaka

In the aftermath of the attack on the Gulshan café, the international community feels that the government should revisit the security measures for diplomats.

Following the July-1 attack that left 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, dead at the café, Bangladesh government received sharp responses from the diplomatic community over security holes, sources said.

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The US had offered immediate assistance of its law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to conduct an investigation maintaining the highest international standard.

The US is sending its Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal this morning to discuss with high government leaders the security situation in Bangladesh and the US support in an investigation into the July-1 attack, security for US embassy officials and US facilities in Bangladesh.

Arriving this morning on a two-day visit, Biswal is expected to have meetings with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and government high officials.

Biswal is likely to push for allowing Bangladeshi private security personnel, protecting American officials, to carry firearms.

Like in most diplomatic missions and thousands of other establishments in Dhaka, the personnel employed by security companies are unarmed in compliance with Bangladeshi laws.

The US government informed the Bangladesh government that the embassy was interested in exploring the option of some of the Bangladeshi private security personnel carrying firearms.

Talking to The Daily Star, a high official at the foreign ministry said the existing laws do not allow private security personnel to carry arms, but the law could be amended considering the security situation.

But a thorough analysis of its effectiveness and implications is needed, the official added.

The US and other mostly western countries have said Bangladesh has the entire international community beside it in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

Foreign ministry officials said a good number of countries offered counterterrorism and tech-intelligence cooperation to prevent future attacks in Bangladesh.

However, Dhaka has been cautious in accepting counter-terrorism cooperation from foreign countries.

Officials at the foreign and home ministries said Bangladesh was incorporating the suggestions of its friendly countries and was sharing information on the ground.

Highly placed diplomatic sources said Dhaka was against giving any “physical access” to any foreign security personnel.

Bangladesh now is not willing to argue over the presence of Islamic State, rather it focuses on doubling efforts to root out militancy from its land with an entirely overhauled strategy, they said.

Talking to The Daily Star, a number of foreign diplomats living in Dhaka said the nature of the café attack showed that Bangladesh had a lot to learn and that it needs to beef up its capabilities, learn to gather intelligence better, train its law enforcement agencies and other security personnel.

 They said it was time for the government to go for a deeper analysis of the situation.

They also stressed the need for national unity since modern-day terrorism is a very complex and multifaceted problem and only security measures of law enforcers was not enough to combat terrorism and violent extremism.

Talking to The Daily Star, foreign diplomats said they think the attack would definitely have a negative impact on the image of the country, which was already in the spotlight following systematic attacks on foreigners, minorities, secular bloggers, and intellectuals in recent months. They believe foreign nationals in the country were under threat of these targeted attacks.

 "The US government believes the threat of terrorism, especially attacks against foreigners, remains real and credible in Bangladesh," an US state department spokesperson said.

Diplomatic sources said the incidents have caused greater international scrutiny of threats as well as Bangladesh's ability to rein it in. Foreign governments have issued revised advisories and warnings to its citizens, while the international business community watches with more astute vigilance out of concerns over personnel safety, asset security, reputation and business continuity.

Foreign diplomatic missions have advised its citizens to exercise heightened vigilance and caution. They also asked Dhaka to tighten security across the country including expatriate enclaves in Gulshan.

 A number of local, regional and international events scheduled for this month have been cancelled considering security threat.

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