An autopsy report has revealed that the nine Italian victims of the Bangladesh terrorist attack in Dhaka on 1 July were tortured before being killed. The bodies of the Italians were flown back to Rome on 5 July.
According to La Stampa, autopsies conducted at the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic showed that many of the Italian victims had been slashed with knives and had suffered a slow death. Other media reports have indicated that some of the Italians were also mutilated.
Most of the Italians caught up in the terrorist attack were working in the clothing industry in Bangladesh. The nine Italians were among a total of 20 people to be killed during the siege, where terrorists are rumoured to have asked hostages to recite verses from the Quran and shooting them if they were unable to.
Rezaul Karim, father of a hostage Hasnat Karim, said: "The gunmen were doing a background check on religion by asking everyone to recite from the Quran. Those who could recite a verse or two were spared. The others were tortured."
However, Rezaul Karim's son has since been taken into custody over alleged links to the terrorists. A video captured Hasnat Karim talking casually with the attackers on the restaurant's terrace and inside the building during the siege.
Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility for the attack and have congratulated the men who carried out the attack. However, authorities have dismissed the link to Isis and insisted that Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh (JMB), a local banned militant group, was behind the attack.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella cut short a visit to Latin America in the wake of the attack, Reuters reported. He returned to Rome to await the arrival of the military plane with the Italian victims' bodies, alongside Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
The Holey Artisan café, which was targeted during the terrorist attack, is a popular destination for Dhaka's foreigners. Most of the 20 victims were not Bangladeshi and included people from Japan, India and the United States.