The Dhaka siege: What, where, and who

Dhaka, Dhaka Division, Bangladesh Updated: Jul 02, 2016, 07:06 AM(IST)

A Bangladeshi bomb disposal squad suits up. Photograph:( Getty )

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

The siege ended on Saturday morning with six gunmen killed, 13 hostages freed, one suspected terrorist taken alive and several casualties.

What happened?

Gunmen burst into a restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka around 9:20pm on Friday night.

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

During the ensuing exhange of fire with the police, the gunmen took up to 40 hostages, including foreigners and two police officers died.

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

Where did it happen?

The Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant is a western-style cafe situated on Road 79 in Dhaka's affluent Gulshan quarter.

The diplomatic zone is home to expatriate workers and 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.

Who is behind the attack?

About four hours after the attack, the Islamic State terror 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.

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, Jiji Press reported.

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. For instance, 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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