13 hostages freed from Dhaka cafe after overnight attack saw 20 victims killed

July 01, 2016
Security personnel keep watch, after gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan restaurant and took hostages, in the Gulshan area of Dhaka, Bangladesh July 2, 2016. © Mohammad Ponir Hossain
Bangladeshi forces stormed a Dhaka cafe where up to 10 gunmen had taken dozens of people hostage, killing 20. Thirteen others were rescued and 6 gunmen were killed by police. Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attack.

"The operation is over and the situation is under control," army spokesman Colonel Rashidul Hasan told Reuters.

At around 8 am, following a 13-hour siege and failed negotiations with the terrorists, over 100 heavily armed Bangladeshi forces launched an operation to free the people being held inside the upscale cafe in Dhaka’s diplomatic district.

It has been reported that Italian, Japanese and Indian nationals were among the hostages. Italy’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Mario Palma, confirmed the reports, saying that seven Italians were inside the cafe.

“Intense” gunfire and two massive blasts were heard from the Dhaka restaurant, according to police, though it is unclear what caused the explosions.

According to a Japanese government spokesman, some 12 people have been rescued, but he did not specify whether they were foreigners. By Saturday morning, it was still unclear how many people are still in the cafe, or what their condition is.

Shortly after reports about the hostage-taking started to surface, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

One of the attackers was armed with a sword, and the others carried guns, an employee of a nearby cafe told RT. He estimated the number of hostages as at least 30.

A kitchen worker who managed to escape the building said the attackers chanted “Allahu Akbar.”

“They blew up several crude bombs, causing wide-scale panic among everyone. I managed to flee during this confusion,” he said, according to The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi English-language newspaper.

Later, ISIS posted graphic photos claiming that those were pictures of dead foreigners killed in the assault on the cafe.

Islamic State claimed it killed 24 people. However, Bangladeshi police stated earlier that only two police officers had been killed and at least 20 people wounded.

Information coming out from the area remains limited, as all TV networks across Bangladesh have stopped live coverage at the request of the police.