Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Militants Take Hostages at Bangladesh Restaurant; 2 Dead

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Militants Take Hostages at Bangladesh Restaurant; 2 Dead

Article excerpt

DHAKA, Bangladesh * The commanding officer of Bangladeshi commandos says at least six militants have been killed and 13 hostages rescued after security forces cleared the main building Saturday morning at the end of a 10-hour standoff in an upscale restaurant at the heart of Bangladesh's diplomatic zone.

Two police officers were killed and at least 26 people wounded in an earlier gunbattle.

Lt. Col. Tuhin Mohammad Masud told The Associated Press that some militants were captured.

"We have gunned down at least six terrorists and the main building is cleared but the operation is still going on," he said.

About 35 people were taken hostage, including about 20 foreigners, when gunmen stormed the Dhaka restaurant Friday night.

Masud said the rescued include a Japanese citizen, who was injured, and two Sri Lankans.

He said there are casualties among other hostages, but did not provide details.

The sound of two big explosions was heard earlier after security forces stormed the restaurant early Saturday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's Gulshan area, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online. Local TV stations reported that the rescue operation began at 7:40 a.m. It included army personnel with automatic weapons and at least seven armored vehicles. Several ambulances were on standby.

Local media reported that an Argentine and two Bangladeshis were rescued from the restaurant early Saturday, but details about their condition were not immediately available.

The attack marked an escalation in the growing drumbeat of militant violence to hit the traditionally moderate Muslim-majority nation in the past three years, but with increasing frequency in recent months. Most attacks have been by machete-wielding men singling out individual activists, foreigners and religious minorities.

Bangladesh did not immediately respond to the claim of responsibility by IS, but in the past it has denied that the extremist group has a presence in the country. The U.S. State Department said it had seen the IS claim but could not confirm its authenticity. …

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