Bloody end to Dhaka hostage crisis

Update: July, 02/2016 - 12:00
Security personnel patrol near a restaurant attacked by gunmen in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 2, 2016. Gunmen have shot dead two police officials, police said, in the first attack on a foreign restaurant in Bangladesh claimed by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. The gunmen stormed the restaurant in Bangladesh capital Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave Gulshan on Friday night at about 9:00 p.m. local time. At least 40 people including two more senior police officials were injured in the incident. - Xinhua/VNA Photo
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DHAKA Army commandoes brought to an end an unprecedented hostage drama at an eatery in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone, rescuing 13 people who include Indian and Japanese citizens almost 12 hours after gunmen stormed the popular café.

Security forces launched an offensive to end the hostage crisis at 7:40 this morning.

Gunshots and heavy sound of explosion were heard as a concerted operation at Holey Artisan Bakery on Road No. 79 in Gulshan, our correspondents covering the event reported.

“Law enforcers have rescued 13 people,” Tuhin Md Masud, commanding officer of Rapid Action Battalion-1, told journalists.    

- Troops storm café 11 hours into the hostage crisis began

- Indians, Japanese among 13 rescued

- 2 police officers dead so far

- 20 believed to be held hostage 

The whole neighbourhood was rocked as the skirmish continued for 15 minutes without almost no break.

“With the rattling sound of gunshots and sound grenades, we heard cries of a large number of people coming from the direction of the café,” said Daily Star correspondent Prabir Barua Chowdhury.   

There was a respite in the frequency of gunshots and explosion after 7:55am. Sporadic gunshots were heard again between 8:03am and 8:15am.

It could not be known immediately whether the security forces managed to rescue the hostages. It is believed that 20 people, including foreigners, were held hostage.

Prior to beginning of the operation, armoured vehicles were brought in and special troops from different law enforcement agencies were seen taking position around Holey Artisan Bakery.

Commandos from Bangladesh Army and Navy joined police, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, elite force Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and paramilitary Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) in the early hours as the hostage crisis dragged for hours.

Our reporters said they saw two ambulances leaving the area during the operation. 

Reuters adds: Bangladesh security forces were preparing to try to free around 20 hostages, including several foreigners, from a restaurant in an upmarket area of the capital Dhaka early today, after gunmen stormed the building killing at least two policemen.

Gowher Rizvi, an adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, told Reuters that security forces were trying to negotiate a way out of the crisis, failing which they would launch an offensive to end the siege.

Police said eight to nine gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan restaurant in the Gulshan district of Dhaka that is popular with expatriates.

The assailants, believed to be carrying assault rifles and grenades, exchanged sporadic gun fire with police outside for several hours after the attack, which began around 9:00 pm local time on Friday.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bangladesh police denied that assertion, saying that two police officers had been killed and at least 20 people wounded.

Italian and Indian nationals are among the hostages, said a duty officer at the Rapid Action Battalion’s (RAB) control room.

Italy’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Mario Palma, told Italian state TV that seven Italians 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.

The hostage crisis marks an escalation from a recent spate of murders claimed by Islamic State and al Qaeda on liberals, gays, foreigners and religious minorities, and could deal a major blow to the country’s vital US$25 billion garment sector.

Last year, several Western retailers temporarily halted visits to Dhaka following the killing of two foreigners.  Star Online Report