Bangladesh hostage siege ends: Everything we know

  • AFP, Dhaka
  • Updated: Jul 03, 2016 13:27 IST
An injured security officer, reacts as he sits in the back of a truck after a gunfight with militants who took hostages at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP)

Bangladeshi troops stormed a cafe popular with foreigners in the diplomatic zone of the capital Dhaka after suspected Islamist militants took diners hostage.

The siege ended on Saturday morning with 20 hostages, two policemen and six gunmen killed. 13 hostages were rescued by security forces.

Here’s what we know so far:

Bangladesh Border Guards are seen near Gulshan restaurant, after gunmen stormed a restaurant popular with expatriates in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital, in Dhaka, Bangladesh July 1, 2016. (REUTERS)

What happened?

Gunmen burst into a restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka around 9:20pm on Friday night, as people were eating dinner.

They set off explosives, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater).

As a massive firefight broke out with police, the gunmen took hostages, including many foreigners. Two police officers died in the gunfight.

Following a 10-hour stand-off, heavily armed commandos stormed the restaurant early Saturday morning, freeing 13 hostages.

Read | Bangladesh restaurant siege ends; 6 gunmen killed, 13 hostages rescued

People try to help an injured person, after gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan restaurant and took hostages, in the Gulshan area of Dhaka, Bangladesh July 1, 2016. (REUTERS)

Where did it happen?

The Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant is a western-style cafe popular for its large, leafy garden, situated on Road 79 in the capital’s affluent Gulshan quarter.

The diplomatic zone is home to many of the city’s expatriate workers and several foreign missions, as well as restaurants, upmarket malls and members’ clubs.

The incident took place near the city’s Nordic Club and the Qatar embassy.

Read | As it happened: Dhaka hostage crisis ends, IS claims responsibility

A wounded police personnel is helped by a colleague, after gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan restaurant and took hostages, in the Gulshan area of Dhaka, Bangladesh July 1, 2016. (REUTERS)

Who is behind the attack?

About four hours after the attack the Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility, via an IS-affiliated news agency, Amaq.

It later issued a number of photographs of what it said were scenes from inside the cafe showing what appeared to be several bodies lying in pools of blood.

The news agency claimed that more than 20 people of different nationalities were killed.

Read | Dhaka restaurant siege: How long before Bangladesh becomes a failed state?

People help an unidentified injured person after a group of gunmen attacked a restaurant popular with foreigners in a diplomatic zone of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, July 1, 2016. (AP)

Who are the hostages?

Little is known about the hostages, however, Italy’s ambassador to Bangladesh Mario Palma told Italian state television that seven Italians are among the captives.

Sri Lanka said two of its nationals were among the hostages, but had been freed.

Tokyo said one Japanese was among those rescued while seven others were missing, a Japanese government official told the media.

Security personnel keep watch, after gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan restaurant and took hostages, in the Gulshan area of Dhaka, Bangladesh July 2, 2016. (Reuters)

Is this kind of attack common?

The attack follows a series of murders of foreigners, religious minorities and secular activists in Bangladesh, blamed on or claimed by Islamist militants.

Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker was shot dead in Gulshan last September in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

And in 2012 a Saudi Arabian diplomat was shot dead in the diplomatic zone.

However, Friday’s attack appears to have been on a much bigger scale and the first time that people were held hostage.

The government and police deny that Islamic State is active in Bangladesh and blame homegrown militants for the killings.

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