Two Emory University students killed in a Bangladesh terror attack Friday were well-known in the school’s tight-knit Oxford University campus, with reputations as bright, enthusiastic, and really, really nice.
“Everyone would just say they were the sweetest, nicest people. Both of them were known for it,” said Sultana Begum, outgoing president of Bengal Association for Students at Emory.
Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain were among the 20 people slain in a brutal attack in the Bangladesh capital by Islamic militants.
Emory University President Jim Wagner announced the news early Saturday in a message on the school’s website:
Abinta Kabir, an Emory University undergraduate student at the Oxford College campus, was among those taken hostage and murdered by terrorists yesterday in the attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Abinta, who is from Miami, Florida, was in Dhaka visiting family and friends.
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The Emory community mourns this tragic and senseless loss of one of our university family. Our thoughts and prayers go out on behalf of Abinta and her family and friends for strength and peace at this unspeakably sad time.
In the wake of this terrible loss, the university is offering support to members of our community through counseling services.
Not long afterward Saturday, Emory made a second post:
Dear Emory Community,
Coming on the heels of my earlier message, we have learned now that a second Emory student was murdered in the Bangladesh terrorist attack. Like Abinta Kabir, Faraaz Hossain had been taken hostage and was subsequently killed. Faraaz had completed his second year at Oxford and was headed to the Business School in the fall.
I have been in touch with a member of the family to express Emory’s shock and condolences. Again as with Abinta, we will want to honor Faraaz’s memory in the fall, as the family might find appropriate. In the meantime, please comfort one another and continue to hold these families in your thoughts and prayers.
Kabir, an Emory University undergraduate student at the Oxford College, and Hossain who completed his second year at Oxford and was headed to Emory’s business school in the fall, were both in Bangladesh visiting family this summer. The two friends decided to meet at bakery by day/restaurant by night on Friday evening. It was a place popular with expatriates, diplomats and middle-class families, a place to catch up with family and friends over croissants and cups of coffee by date, dinner at night.
The attack began Friday when assailants shouting “Allahu akbar” and armed with guns, swords and explosives stormed a café in an upscale neighborhood popular with foreigners.
By the time security forces regained control of the Holey Artisan Bakery, 20 civilians, two police officers and six militants were dead. Another 13 hostages were freed.
The Islamic State – or ISIS – claimed credit for the grisly attacks. Officials said the victims were brutally hacked or stabbed to death.
Anisha Pal, friends with both victims, said Kabir and Hossain were both active in the Student Activity Center at Oxford and helped plan many social events including the school dances, concerts and the Mr. & Mrs. Oxford pageant.
David Leinweber was teaching Abinta just a few weeks ago in a summer history class at Emory. He got to know her well, as it was a small class of only a handful of students.
“She was disciplined, very smart and very likable,” said Leinweber, an Emory associate professor of history. “You knew she was going somewhere.”
He said she spoke of plans to go to Bangladesh, and always referred to place with praise.
Rifat Mursalin, who just graduated from Emory, came to know Faraaz after Faraaz offered to help him with a project on alleviating poverty in Bangladesh.
“That’s the kind of person he was,” Mursalin said. “He offered to help out of the sheer goodness of his heart.”
Stay tuned to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates on this story.