The deaths in the militant attack on a restaurant in Bangladesh were at once random, and not so random.
The 20 hostages who died in the siege had reasons to be in the developing South Asian nation. They were construction consultants from Japan, working on a Japanese government-funded infrastructure project. They were Italian businesspeople in textiles, a major industry in a country that is a center for low-cost production. They were three students from American universities who had ties to Bangladesh.
Their lives intersected on a Friday night at the western-style restaurant at Holey Artisan Bakery, a popular hangout for the relatively well-heeled in the Gulshan diplomatic enclave in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. By Saturday morning, after security forces stormed the restaurant to end a 10-hour siege, they were dead. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted citizens of what it called “Crusader countries.” Their stories paint a portrait of innocent lives lost in this deadly militant attack.
TEXTILE INDUSTRY FIGURES FROM ITALY
Nadia Benedetti’s family remembers her as someone who moved with ease in the world. Her work, including collecting orders for European and U.S. fashion companies, took to places as far as China, Australia, and, her latest business address, in Dhaka. Benedetti, 52, headed a company with 1,800 employees. But beyond workplace success, friends and family remember her for other things, especially a sunny disposition, her thoughtfulness and a love for song. She adored singing karaoke style. A niece also recalled how she would send home early from work employees who were fasting during the month of Ramadan, since they looked tired.
An Italian woman who is friends with an Italian diner who survived the Dhaka restaurant attack says three university students were dining outside in the garden when the attackers saw them and ordered them inside, where they were killed.
Agnese Barolo was dining with the Italian ambassador at the embassy a few blocks from the restaurant when the attack began Friday night. Survivor Gianni Boschetti phoned the embassy to tell them the attack was underway. Boschetti survived because he had just gone outside to talk on the phone and hid behind the gardens’ bushes. Barolo says the attackers ordered the students to go inside and “they started to cry, they didn’t want to” go inside. Students Tarushi Jain, Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain were killed.
Barolo’s son-in-law had been the soccer coach of Kabir and Hossain. Corriere says Barolo is married to an adviser to the Bangladesh’s premier. Her friend, Claudia D’Antona, died in the attack. Corriere says Boschetti and D’Antona were married last year at the Italian embassy, where a big party was held.
D’Antona worked in the clothing and textiles, as did Simona Monti, who was five months pregnant with a boy she planned to name Michelangelo. Maria Riboli, Marco Tondat and Cristian Rossi, a business manager who lived in Feletto Umberto, northern Italy, also worked in the textiles industry, a crucial sector of Bangladesh’s economy.
— By Frances D’Emilio in Rome
CONSULTANTS FROM JAPAN
Dhaka, a city of 7 million, has some serious traffic congestion, so it’s no surprise that transport is a key area of Japanese government aid in Bangladesh.
The work brought together eight technical experts, from three Tokyo-based consulting firms, who were eating together when the attack began at 9:20 p.m. Two women and five men died. Only one made it out alive.
Tamaoki Watanabe, who was hospitalized after being shot, was one of four employees from ALMEC Corp., a transportation consultancy with offices in Manila, Hanoi, Jakarta and Ulan Bator, according to its website. The other three — Yuko Sakai, Rui Shimodaira and Makoto Okamura — perished.
Okamura’s father, Komakichi Okamura, told Japanese media outside his home on Sunday that his 32-year-old son’s death “is unbearable as a parent.” He recalled their last words: “He said, ‘I am leaving now.’ and I said to him to be careful. That was the last conversation I had with him on the telephone.”
Another victim, Koyo Ogasawara, worked for Katahira & Engineers International, a transportation consultancy that has worked on projects in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The other three were working for Oriental Consultants Global, which is part of a Japanese project to build three bridges for the widening of the national highway from Dhaka to Chittagong. They have been identified as Hideki Hashimoto, Nobuhiro Kurosaki and Hiroshi Tanaka.
“We feel very indignant toward the perpetrators, because these people were working hard for the development of Bangladesh,” said Shinichi Kitaoka, the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. He pledged to strengthen security precautions while continuing to contribute to the country’s development.
— By Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo
STUDENTS FROM AMERICA
They were three friends from American universities, meeting up over summer vacation in Dhaka.
Two were studying at Emory University in Georgia: Faraaz Hossain from Dhaka, and Abinta Kabir from Miami, Florida, who was visiting family and friends in Bangladesh.
The third, 18-year-old Tarishi Jain, was an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She was an Indian citizen, whose father Sanjeev Jain moved to Bangladesh nearly two decades ago and runs a garment business there.
Tarishi was a frequent visitor to Holey Artisan Bakery, located near her home.
“The country is with them in this hour of grief,” India’s minister for external affairs, Sushma Swaraj tweeted. Her body will be flown to New Delhi on Monday, and the cremation will take place in the northern Indian town of Firozabad, the Jain family’s home town.
Kabir was entering Emory’s Oxford College as a sophomore, and Hossain was a graduate of Oxford College and a student at the university’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta.
Both were active on the Student Activities Committee executive board at Oxford, and fellow student Kereisha Harrell said they were also part of an honor society that required a GPA of 3.9 or higher.
“We are honestly shocked,” she said. “A lot of us are not ready to talk about it. But we were a family. It hit us hard. There are a lot of people very upset. We’re just trying to support each other through this.”
— By Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Atlanta and Nirmala George in New Delhi