Bangladesh eatery bans foreigners fearing extremist attack

DHAKA - An upscale Bangladeshi restaurant has banned foreign guests, fearing a repeat of last year's deadly terrorist attack in a Dhaka cafe, the owner said Thursday.

Lake Terrace, a reputed rooftop barbeque restaurant in the capital's northern Uttara neighbourhood, put a notice at its entrance saying no foreigners were welcome. Shah Tanzil, the owner of Lake Terrace, said the order had come from his landlord.

"We had no choice but to follow the landlord's instruction," he told AFP.

"We are ashamed. But we cannot suddenly shut down our business as it's our bread and butter." The landlord of the five-storey building told local English newspaper, The Daily Star, he feared foreigners were the primary targets of the extremists.

"Who would take the responsibility if something bad happens?" he told the daily, on condition of anonymity.

Five armed young men entered the Holey Artisan Bakery last year in the city's diplomatic quarters and killed at least 22 people, mostly foreigners, after taking them hostage.

The Islamic State group claimed the attack, although the government blamed a homegrown Islamist extremist organisation.

The move to close the cafe to foreigners comes after a fresh warning operations in Bangladesh.

The US-based monitoring group SITE said Abu Shofiq Al Bengali had osted a message on Wednesday, warning of a "strong trained brigade of thousand brothers" in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Indian state of West Bengal.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force fighting militancy in the Muslim-majority nation, said they were investigating the authencity of the post.

"We are verifying the statement, whether it is credible," RAB spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan told AFP.

Bangladeshi has seen a spate of fatal attacks on foreigners, secular rights activists and religious minorities in recent years.

The Holey Bakery cafe attack led to a major crackdown on Islamist militants, nearly 70 of whom have been shot dead by security forces.