Islamic State gunmen stormed a cafe in central Dhaka, Bangladesh late Friday, killing 20 hostages before the siege ended nearly 12 hours later.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on its official channel, Amaq News Agency.
Bangladeshi police breached the cafe early morning Saturday, killing six gunmen and arresting one. The gunmen reportedly screamed “Allahu Akhbar” when entering the cafe, and quickly separated locals from foreigners. The Associated Press reports the dead hostages included citizens of Italy, Japan, South Korea, Bangladesh and one Indian.
Bangladeshi General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune, the hostages were killed execution style with “sharp objects” indicating they may have been tortured. An employee of the restaurant who managed to flee, told the Tribune one of the terrorists was wielding a sword.
The attack began as Bangladeshis gathered to break their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. ISIS told followers to seize the month of Ramadan as a time to carry out as many attacks possible. The high-profile attack in Bangladesh may indicate the intention to officially declare Bangladesh an Islamic “state.” The Institute for the Study of War recently noted, “ISIS is likely preparing to launch new affiliates in Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh has seen a slew of radical Islamic terrorist attacks in the last year. ISIS’s Bangladeshi affiliate is responsible for a number of attacks on religious minority figures, such as Hindu and Christian priests. The local terrorists were implicated in over two dozen murders throughout Bangladesh, targeting religious minorities or foreigners.
An ISIS statement claiming responsibility for the multitude of terrorist attacks said “The knives of the mujahedin will continue to cleanse Bangladesh from the filth of the polytheists and apostates.”
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