The United States and Canada have warned their citizens of militant attacks in Bangladesh, asking them to remain alert. The directives came today, a day after the United Kingdom issued travel alert where it claimed militants may be targeting western interests in Bangladesh.
Also yesterday, an Italian national, Cesare Tavella was shot dead in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic zone. The 50-year-old Italian was working as the project manager of Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (Proofs), a project of Netherlands-based organisation ICCO Cooperation since May.
The fear of militant attack was first expressed by Australia on Thursday when the Australia national cricket team delayed its start for Bangladesh. According to Australian government alert, Australian interests can be targeted by militants in Bangladesh.
As per the schedule, the Aussies are expected to play a three-day warm up match against BCB XI in Fatullah from October 3 before the two Test matches – October 9-13 in Chittagong and October 17-21 in Dhaka.
While an Australian security contingent talked with different officials of law enforcement and security agencies of Bangladesh over safety and security measures, the killing of Italian Cesare Tavella Monday evening seemingly further complicated the situation.
The same evening, the British government said there is a general threat from terrorism. “Attacks can’t be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners,” reads the travel advice.
Saying that there is reliable information on militants’ plan to target western interests in Bangladesh, it advised UK officials to limit their attendance at events where westerners may gather, for example in hotels or conference centres.
The United States has advised its citizens to limit their movement, saying “militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh”.
“Such attacks, should they occur, could likely affect other foreigners, including US citizens,” according to a message issued last night by Overseas Security Advisory Council of Bureau of Diplomatic Security in US State Department yesterday.
The US authorities prohibited all official US government personnel from attending large gatherings, including events at international hotels in Bangladesh until further notice, unless they have obtained Regional Security Of-fice permission.
“In light of the increased threat, US citizens should consider limiting their attendance at events where foreigners may gather, including events at international hotels.”
The US government, the message adds, continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against US government facilities, US citizens, or US interests.
“Terrorists have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack locations where US citizens or westerners are known to congregate or visit.”
In another message, the department asked its citizens to review their security practices and take whatever precau-tions they determine are prudent.
“It is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high,” it read.
Following the Gulshan murder, the US Embassy instructed its personnel to shelter in place until this morning.
“American International School in Dhaka (AISD) will be closed on September 29 (today). The Embassy will be open on September 29, including providing consular services. US government personnel and their families will be limiting their movements, ” the message said.
Citing the alerts issued by Australia and UK, Canadian High Commission in Dhaka this morning issued travel alert for its citizens, according to a statement issued by the Canadian government.
“At the end of September 2015, the Australian and United Kingdom Governments informed their citizens that there is reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Western interests in Bangladesh. Attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate,” it read.
The statement asked its citizens in Bangladesh to limit their attendance at events where Westerners may gather, for example in hotels or conference centres.
“Exercise caution and maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places, and monitor local media for the latest information on threats to security.”