Foreign missions concerned | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 30, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:57 AM, September 30, 2015

Killing of Italian National

Foreign missions concerned

More countries issue security alerts

The killing of Italian national Cesare Tavella inside the capital's diplomatic zone has created a security flutter among different foreign missions in Dhaka.

A number of diplomatic missions and donor agencies have condemned Monday's killing of Tavella, who worked for a Netherlands-based NGO, and called for a quick investigation into the incident.

The Unites States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia have issued travel alerts for their citizens in Bangladesh and asked them to take whatever precautions they feel necessary.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the diplomatic area with deployment of additional law enforcers, according to a press release of the Police Headquarters.

Special security arrangements have been made for international organisations and steps taken to increase cooperation and coordination among different agencies, it says.

DIPLOMATS MEET

British High Commissioner Robert Gibson, also the dean of Diplomatic Corps, yesterday held a meeting at his residence with a number of ambassadors and high commissioners of different countries in Dhaka.

British High Commission Spokesperson Fouzia Younis-Suleman told The Daily Star that the envoys discussed Tavella's murder with their international partners.

"We are in close touch with our international partners and have discussed the incident with them," she added.

CONDEMNATIONS POUR IN

Condemning the killing, the European Union yesterday said, "We are deeply saddened by the news of the murder yesterday in Dhaka of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella ...

"Our thoughts are with Mr Tavella's family, friends and colleagues as well as with the Italian authorities, to all of whom we convey our deepest condolences.

"Those responsible for this act must be brought to justice ... We will stand firm in upholding the values of solidarity and life," a spokesperson of the EU External Action in Brussels said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon condemned the incident "in the strongest possible terms" and urged the law enforcement agencies to promptly investigate "this barbaric aggression" and bring the perpetrators to justice.

"Cesare Tavella had come to Bangladesh for helping the poorest of the poor which makes this crime even more horrific," he said.

In a separate statement, British High Commissioner Gibson said he was dismayed at the violent murder.

"It was a horrifying and cowardly crime against an aid worker working for the people of Bangladesh, helping the most vulnerable. I extend my deepest condolences to Tavella's family and friends," he added.

The Italian Embassy in a notice, written in red fonts, to Italian nationals, said: "It's still not clear the motive behind the murder -- crime or terrorist act -- of the aid worker Cesare Tavella ... The responsibility for the murder claimed by ISIS is yet to be verified. As a precautionary measure,  therefore, the Italian Embassy calls upon all the fellow countrymen to avoid places (hotels, restaurants, clubs, international schools) and events which are normally frequented or attended by foreigners."

In a Facebook post, the Netherlands Embassy in Dhaka said: "We strongly condemn this violent attack and urge the law enforcement agencies to promptly investigate this barbaric aggression and bring the perpetrators to justice."

Tavella was employed by the Netherlands-based ICCO and was managing a food security project financed by the Netherlands Embassy. "He started his work in May 2015, he did an amazing job. He was well respected and liked," the Facebook post said.

TRAVEL ALERTS

The Canadian government on its official website mentioned that there is a "threat of terrorism" in Bangladesh.

"At the end of September 2015, the Australian and [the] United Kingdom Governments informed their citizens that there is reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Western interests in Bangladesh," it said.

On Monday night, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the US State Department advised US citizens in Bangladesh to review security practices.

"The US Embassy in Dhaka advises US citizens resident in Bangladesh to review their security practices and take whatever precautions they determine are prudent. As always, remain vigilant regarding your personal security and be alert to local security developments. It is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high," it said.

Following the shooting of the Italian aid worker on Monday evening, the US Embassy instructed its staff to "shelter in place" till yesterday morning. American International School in Dhaka too remained closed yesterday.

Meanwhile, the British government further updated its travel advice.

"The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility [for the Italian's murder]; a number of international schools and expatriate clubs have closed for the day on 29 September as a precaution; you should be particularly vigilant at this time," says the advice posted on the UK government's website.

"There is reliable information that militants may be planning to target western interests in Bangladesh," it said and advised the UK officials to limit their attendance at events where westerners may gather, for example in hotels or conference centres.

Earlier on Monday, the UK issued a similar travel alert for its citizens, saying militants may be targeting westerners in Bangladesh in late September. The same day, Italian aid worker Tavella was gunned down in Gulshan-2 area of the capital.

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