Dhaka cafe attack ends with 20 foreign hostages among dead


“Most of (the hostages) were killed mercilessly by sharp weapons last night,” before the siege began, Army Brigadier General Naim Asraf Chowdhury said.

The army concluded an operation to clear the cafe after a 12-hour siege that began when gunmen stormed the restaurant on Friday night. Two police were killed in the initial assault.

 

The 13 hostages that were rescued included one Japanese and two Sri Lankans, Chowdhury told a news conference. Police said earlier the gunmen were holding about 20 hostages.

One Japanese man was among those rescued and taken to a Dhaka hospital with a gunshot wound, a Japanese government spokesman said. Seven Japanese were unaccounted for.

Italy’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Mario Palma, told Italian state TV seven Italians were among the hostages.

Islamic State posted photos of what it said were dead foreigners killed in the assault, which could deal a major blow to the country’s vital $25 billion garment sector.

Police said they believed about eight to nine gunmen had been holed up in the cafe, armed with assault rifles and grenades.

Gowher Rizvi, an adviser to Hasina, told Reuters security forces had tried to negotiate with the gunmen.

An attack on a cafe in Dhaka has left 28 people dead, including 20 foreign hostages, most of whom were killed with sharp weapons, the Bangladesh army said.

Brig Gen Naim Asraf Chowdhury told a news conference on Saturday that six militants and two police officers were killed, and 13 people were rescued.

The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, said one of the gunmen had been captured alive in the dawn raid.

More than 100 Bangladeshi commandos stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic quarter of the capital early on Saturday after the 12-hour siege began on Friday night.

An attack on a cafe in Dhaka has left 28 people dead, including 20 foreign hostages, most of whom were killed with sharp weapons, the Bangladesh army said.

Brig Gen Naim Asraf Chowdhury told a news conference on Saturday that six militants and two police officers were killed, and 13 people were rescued.

The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, said one of the gunmen had been captured alive in the dawn raid.

More than 100 Bangladeshi commandos stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic quarter of the capital early on Saturday after the 12-hour siege began on Friday night.

Local TV stations reported that the rescue operation began at 7.40am, about 10 hours after the gunmen took over the café.

Gowher Rizvi, an adviser to Bangladesh’s prime minister, told Reuters early on Saturday that security forces had been trying to negotiate an end to the crisis before launching their offensive.

Benjir Ahmed, chief of the country’s special police force, told reporters on Friday night that eight to nine gunmen had attacked the restaurant in the Gulshan area of Dhaka.

Italy’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Mario Palmer, said seven Italian nationals were among the hostages. “It is a suicide attack. They want to carry out a powerful and bloody operation and there is no room for negotiation,” Palma said. An Italian foreign ministry source said one Italian had escaped but had told police there were seven others still inside. It was also thought Indian nationals were among the hostages.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and posted photos online via Amaq, its propaganda agency, which it claimed were of foreigners killed in the attack.

Local media reported that gunmen had entered the cafe and opened fire at around 9.20pm.

Mohammad Jasimuddin, a member of the kitchen staff, was inside the restaurant when the gunmen stormed in. “There were about 50 to 60 staff inside. These people came and opened fire. We thought they were dacoits [bandits] and would leave after looting money and valuables,” he said.

“I heard them screaming Allahu Akbar [God is great] and firing shots,” he told the Guardian. “We thought they’d leave in 15 to 20 minutes, instead they went upstairs to the second floor [that was] under construction. They were firing from there.” He said that he and other employees jumped over barbed wire fences to escape. He estimated there were about 25 to 30 customers inside at the time.

A police constable named Kamruzzaman told the Guardian that the gunmen threw explosives from the second floor. “We reached the spot of the attack within seven minutes of the incident taking place,” he said. “They opened fire from there, we fired back.

“We tried to rescue a civilian but they shot him down. He was lying by the lakeside close to the restaurant,” Kamruzzaman added. “We didn’t know they had grenades in their possession.”

A local police station chief, Mohammed Salahuddin, was killed in the gunfight along with one other officer, confirmed Ashraful Karim, the assistant police commissioner and Salahuddin’s immediate superior.

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