Gunmen attack cafe in Bangladesh capital, Italians among hostages

Other News Materials 2 July 2016 03:09 (UTC +04:00)

Gunmen stormed a restaurant popular with expatriates in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Friday night and took around 20 people hostage, including several foreigners, in an attack claimed by Islamic State, Reuters reported.

Security officials said two police officers had been killed, but denied a report by Islamic State that 24 people were dead in the assault.

Italian and Indian nationals are among the hostages, said a duty officer at the Rapid Action Battalion's (RAB) control room, adding that gun battles had stopped.

The hostage crisis, which continued into early hours of Saturday, 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 $25 billion garment sector.

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

Police said eight to nine gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan restaurant in the upscale Gulshan area of Dhaka.

The assailants, believed to be carrying assault rifles and grenades, exchanged sporadic gun fire with police outside for several hours after the attack began around 9 p.m. local time.

At least 15 people were injured, police said. RAB official Khalid Ibn-Hossain said police were trying to speak with the gunmen but had not been able to.