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How one Holey Artisan staff’s caution saved lives

  • Published at 08:31 pm July 1st, 2018
Officials of law enforcement agencies at the Holey Artisan Bakery, where a group of militants carried out a barbaric attack on the night of July 1, 2016, at Gulshan, Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

This article is being republished from the Dhaka Tribune's archive on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Holey Artisan attack

After an Italian citizen was murdered on the streets inside the diplomatic zone in Dhaka in late 2015, the many foreigners who lived in the area became concerned about their safety.

Italian aid worker Ceasare Tavella was shot dead on the evening of September 28, 2015 by three men riding on a motorcycle on Road 90 in Gulshan 2.

One of Holey’s former staff, a foreigner, told the Dhaka Tribune that since the Tavella murder, he had been concerned about safety in the area.

Diego Rossini, an Argentine chef who was inside the Holey Artisan Bakery during the attack, said his concern and caution saved his life.

Nine months after Tavella murder, one of the worst terrorist attacks in the nation’s history took place at Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, Dhaka.

“After Tavella murder, I was scared because so many foreigners, diplomats, businessmen and Bangladeshi upper class people used to come to Holey and during that time so many killings were happening in Bangladesh. Two foreigners were killed.”

Rossini escaped from the restaurant jumping from the rooftop after the restaurant was attacked on the night of July 1 in 2016.

After the Tavella murder, Rossini started to plan what he would do if some kind of attack happened at the restaurant.

“Holey was the obvious target,” he said.

Rossini told the Dhaka Tribune in a video call from Spain: “I was really so tense about the incidents happening at that time that when I was on the rooftop one day I looked for an escape route, in case any terrorist attack happened. I talked to my other foreigner colleagues as well.”

When the Holey attack happened, Rossini and his other colleagues including the foreigners escaped the restaurant using that route. He was the first person who went to the rooftop and the others followed him.

An Italian cheese maker named Jack Bio who worked at the bakery was among those who followed Rossini to safety. His wife, who was the maî·tre d’hô·tel at Holey Artisan, was fortunately on leave that day. The two left Bangladesh for Italy two days after the attack.

When contacted, Bio said he never felt threatened while working at the restaurant.

He said through a social networking site that he is now working in Thailand.

“All the Italian community felt super safe. I along with my wife roamed around the city freely with motorbikes,” he said.