At Least 20 Have Been Killed Following Bangladesh’s ‘Worst Hostage Crisis’ In History

The hostage situation in Dhaka, Bangladesh has come to an end after troops stormed the cafe where gunmen entered 12 hours earlier. Military personnel lead the operation to end the standoff, killing a reported six gunmen and taking one captive following the country’s worst hostage crisis according to APB. Al-Jazeera reports that the scene inside the restaurant is as gruesome as feared, with most of the dead having their throats slit by the attackers:

“Most [of] them had been brutally hacked to death with sharp weapons,” army spokesman Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said on Saturday.

Military officials said all of those killed were foreign, and that the dead included Japanese and Italian nationals.

Italy’s foreign minister said on Saturday that nine Italians were confirmed dead, with another Italian still unaccounted for.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, one of many they have claimed in the country in recent months, and the group posted images of dead hostages reportedly taken from inside the Holey Artisan Spanish cafe in the diplomatic section of the city. As Al-Jazeera notes, the question for the coming weeks will revolve around how the attackers managed to make it into the area despite the increased police presence and checkpoints. Given the nature and victims of the attack, international pressure is sure to be on. Italy is one of the countries to have been greatly affected by the attack, with their foreign minister offering support to victim’s families:

“Our values are stronger than hatred and terror.”

Italian news agency Ansa said up to 10 Italians may be unaccounted for. The Italian press said many of those dining at the cafe worked in the garment industry.

Although the army said all 20 killed were foreigners, there are unconfirmed reports that at least one Bangladeshi national was among the hostages killed.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke strongly against the attackers while praising authorities following the end of the operation. The influence of ISIS in the area is still in question despite claims from the group. Government officials deny any ISIS presence with in the country, blaming local groups and militants instead — possibly mirroring the “lone wolf” incidents we’ve seen in the United States:

“I thank Alah 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.

“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

Hasina added that “terrorism” is their religion and the timing of the attack with Ramadan’s Laylat al-Qadr is “intolerable.” The planning and coordination of the attack would conflict with government beliefs, but those details have yet to be released. The hostage situation follows the airport attacks in Istanbul and 18 months of violent attacks against “liberals, gays, foreigners and members of religious minorities” in Bangladesh.

(Via APB / Guardian / Al-Jazeera / BBC)