DHAKA, Bangladesh, July 1, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Bangladeshi police stormed a restaurant in the capital of Dhaka on Saturday to free 20 hostages, including several foreigners.
The hostages were trapped inside after gunmen launched an attack on the popular restaurant late on Friday night, an official said.
“Our commandos have stormed into the restaurant. Intense gunfighting on,” Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan, a deputy director at the Rapid Action Battalion force, told Reuters.
Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks, posted photos of what it said were dead foreigners killed in the assault on the cafe, where police believe eight to nine gunmen are holed up and armed with assault rifles and grenades.
Gowher Rizvi, an adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, told Reuters that security forces had tried for hours to negotiate a way out of the crisis before storming into the restaurant.
Benjir Ahmed, the chief of Bangladesh’s special police force told Reuters the assailants hurled bombs at police as the attack unfolded on Friday night. Two policemen are dead and two others wounded by the gunfire, police said.
A resident near the scene of the attack told CNN said he could hear sporadic gunfire nearly three hours after the attack began. “It is chaos out there. The streets are blocked. There are dozens of police commandos,” said Tarique Mir.
Over the last year, Bangladesh has seen an increase in militant Islamist violence. Deadly attacks have routinely been launched against atheists and members of religious minorities with the attackers often using machetes. The country of 160 million people is predominantly Muslim.
The U.S. State Department told Reuters that all Americans working at the U.S. mission there have been accounted for. A spokesman said in Washington the situation was “very fluid, very live”.
This is a developing story and Gephardt Daily will update the situation as details become available.