Dhaka’s worst terror attack ends, 20 foreigners hacked to death


DHAKA: Twenty foreigners were brutally hacked to death by terror­ists inside a restaurant popular with expatriates here in the high-security diplomatic zone before commandos launched an assault on Saturday killing six attackers and capturing one alive, ending Bangladesh’s worst terror attack.

Brigadier General Nayeem Ash­faq Chowdhury, the director of mili­tary operations, said the militants slaughtered 20 hostages before the joint operation led by the armed forc­es began. Most of those killed were found with their throat slit, he added.

“Army Para commando Unit-1 led the operation and killed six ter­rorists within 13 minutes,” Chowd­hury told reporters.

The mission codenamed ‘Opera­tion Thunderbolt’ was launched af­ter the Prime Minister ordered the army to intervene to end the hostage crisis, he said.

All 20 hostages killed were for­eigners , with most being Italian or Japanese. Two senior police officers were also killed in the gunbattle that began last night.

He said the bodies of the victims were recovered during a search in the Holey Artisan Bakery compound after the operation. The bodies were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital morgue for autopsy to con­firm their identity.

Gunshots and sounds of explo­sion rocked the area at 7:40am (local time) as security forces launched the final assault to end the siege.

Sheikh Hasina: What kind of Muslims are these?

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the end of siege and said security forces “successfully” wrapped up their operation, freeing 13 hostages after killing six terror­ists and capturing one militant at the Spanish cafe.

“It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any reli­gion,” she said in a televised speech, referring to the terrorists.

“They (gunmen) defied the call of Ramadan’s tarabi (special evening) prayers and went to kill people…The way they killed people is intolerable. They don’t have any religion…terror­ism is their religion,” said Hasina, with Army chief General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq by her side.

“I thank Allah as we could de­stroy the terrorists and rescue the hostages,” Hasina said, adding that “none of the terrorists could flee the scene, six of them were killed on the spot and one was captured alive.”

Hasina vowed to do everything to “uproot the militants and violent extremists” from Bangladesh.

Among those rescued were Indi­an, Sri Lankan and Japanese nation­als, media reports said.

Hasina said around 30 people were injured in the attack.

ISIS claims responsibility

Islamic State group claimed re­sponsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, nearly four hours after the hostage crisis unfold­ed, according to the US-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity online.

It later issued a number of photo­graphs of what it said were scenes from inside the restaurant. The pictures showed what appeared to be a number of bodies lying in pools of blood.

Amaq claimed that 24 people had been killed in the attack carried out by what it described as “ISIS com­mandos”.

Heavy firing and explosions

Heavy firing and explosions continued at least for an hour after the ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ began on Saturday morning. A resident of a building, just 50 yards from the scene, reported spotting snipers fir­ing from their guns.

The military-led rescue opera­tion on Saturday was launched joint­ly by a navy commando squad, para­military BGB, elite anti-crime RAB along with special police units.

Shots were also fired from ar­moured personnel carriers (APCs). Grenades were also apparently exploded. Later, the APCs broke through the walls and entered the restaurant premises.

After hours of quiet at the Holey Artisan Bakery where terrorists were holding hostages, a fresh round of heavy gunfire rang out in the morning.

Army men in armoured person­nel carriers (APCs) had moved in with commandos. Over 1,000 rounds of gunshots were fired and almost 100 blasts were heard in the first half an hour of the raid, media reports said.

Terrorists chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’

On Friday night, terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar” barged into the cafe, frequented by diplo­mats and expatriates, and opened indiscriminate fire at around 9:20pm (local time).

Police said the two officers died at a hospital after being wounded in the initial gunfire on Friday night. Ten of 26 people who were wounded when the militants opened fire were in criti­cal condition, and six were on life sup­port, according to hospital staff. The injuries ranged from broken bones to gunshot wounds. Only one civilian was among the wounded.

The deceased policemen have been identified as officer in charge of nearby Banani police station, Salahuddin Ahmed and additional commissioner of police Rabiul.

An Argentine national and a lo­cal escaped after taking refuge in a nearby house when the gunmen en­tered the restaurant.

Police said they have detained two employees of the eatery for ques­tioning.

Spate of murders

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

A Hindu priest and a Buddhist leader were brutally hacked to death by machete-wielding ISIS militants in the last two days while another Hindu man survived a bid on his life.

The restaurant assault also comes after Bangladesh hanged an Islamist party leader, Motiur Rah­man Nizami, on May 11 for genocide and other crimes committed during a 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. That has drawn an angry reaction and some scattered vio­lence from supporters. Nizami, 73, was a former legislator and minister during opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s last term as prime minister.


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