Bangladesh security forces have gunned down six assailants in capital city of Dhaka on Saturday morning thus putting an end to an intense hostage situation. Heavily armed militants held dozens of people hostage at an upscale Dhaka cafe, Holey Artisan Bakery, on Friday evening. The militant group Islamic State (IS) has taken the responsibility of the attack.
According to BBC, at least 13 people, some of them believed to be Italian and Japanese citizens, were rescued by security forces. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed the nation and said one of the gunmen was arrested.
Police Lt. Col. Tuhin Mohammad Masud told the Associated Press “there were casualties among hostages.” No further details were released but BBC said that the Japanese citizen was shot and wounded in the attack. The rescued people also included two Sri Lankans. Some Italian and Indian nationals were also among the hostages. Further details are awaited.
“It was an extremely heinous act,” Hasina said in a televised statement. “What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any religion.”
“My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh,” she added.
A statement released by ISIS said that they chose the restaurant as it was “frequented by foreigners.” The militant organisation has taken responsibility of killing more than 20 people “of different nationalities.” This has not yet been confirmed and Bangladeshi police has denied these claims.
The cafe is located in one of the most heavily-guarded parts of Dhaka and is popular with foreigners. The embassies are also in its vicinity. According to Aljazeera, around “eight or nine men” stormed the cafe at around 9 p.m. local time on Friday and held everyone hostage. The situation went on for more than 14 hours.
However, the deadly Dhaka cafe siege is now over. “The operation is over. The situation is completely under control,” army spokesman Colonel Rashidul Hasan told the AFP news agency. According to CNN, the attack also left at least two senior officers dead and 40 people injured.
Earlier on Friday, a Hindu priest was also killed by unidentified gunmen at a temple in Jhinaidah district, 300km southwest of Dhaka. This attack came just a day after a Hindu temple worker also lost his life in an attack by suspected Islamist militants.
Bangladesh attack: Twenty civilians killed, army says. https://t.co/TGNArEPVsO
— Megan O’Toole (@megan_otoole) July 2, 2016
The sudden turn of events where the government first denied the killings has garnered criticism.
The Government of Bangladesh needs to be honest about the country’s terrorism problem, rather than always trying to implicate the Opposition
— Mark T Jones (@MarkTJones500) July 2, 2016
20 killed (names not identified).
13 hostages rescued (2 of them were foreigners).
6 attackers were shot down, 1… https://t.co/L5M8oatJRe
— SK Ishak Ahmed Lusan (@sk_lusan) July 2, 2016
Update: Bangladesh government now says atleast 20 people have been killed in the attack. This is a developing story, please check back for updates. Most of the hostages were either Italian or Japanese. More details are awaited.