When five armed Islamist militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 1 July 2016, 29 people lost their lives. Emerging from the appalling, bloody debris are stories of immense courage. There are also unanswered questions about what happened to some of those who died.
It was about 20:45 on a Friday evening just before the Islamic festival of Eid. The restaurant – the Holey Artisan Bakery and O’Kitchen in Gulshan, Dhaka’s leafiest, most exclusive area – was filling up, mostly with Japanese and Italian customers.
Suddenly, the five young militants burst in shooting and began hacking at the diners with sharp weapons.
Shishir Sarker, one of the Holey Artisan’s chefs, was coming out of the refrigerated chiller room with a plate of pasta when he heard shouting.
“Then I saw one of the attackers – in one hand he had a sword or machete, and a gun was slung across his chest,” Sarker recalls.