DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Heavy gunfire and explosions rang out Saturday morning as Bangladesh security forces backed by armored vehicles moved to end a 10-hour standoff with heavily armed militants holding dozens of people hostage, including foreigners, after storming 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.
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 jihadis activity online. At least 35 people, including about 20 foreigners, were trapped inside the restaurant, said kitchen staffer Sumon Reza, who was among more than 10 people who managed to run to the rooftop and escape when the militants moved in Friday night.
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.