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Allahu Akbar shouted as Cafe in diplomatic area of Dhaka attacked. Two Italians slain.
BREAKING NEWS: Police locked in a shoot-out with gunmen who shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they take hostages including foreigners at restaurant in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka
Up to nine gunmen entered, opened fire and hurled makeshift bombs
Gunmen armed with ‘pistols, swords and bombs’, according to a witness
Worker who escaped reported gunmen shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they fired
Restaurant in city’s diplomatic quarter and popular with foreign nationals
Several foreigners are among being held hostage inside, said police chief
One police officer injured in the attack has reportedly been declared dead
By Imogen Calderwood For Mailonline and Agencies, 1 July 2016
Police are locked in a deadly shoot-out with gunmen at a restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.
As many as nine gunmen entered the Holey Artisan restaurant and opened fire, unleashing at least 50 shots and hurling makeshift bombs.
The attackers are reportedly holding around 20 people hostage at gunpoint inside the Spanish restaurant, including foreigners, in the upmarket Gulshan area.
Police are preparing heavily-armoured vehicles in an attempt to storm the premises, which is near to a hospital, and rescue those held inside.
One police officer, who was earlier injured in the shoot-out, has been declared dead according to a top official at Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Several foreigners have been confirmed to be among those held hostage inside the restaurant, after as many as nine gunmen ‘armed with pistols, swords and bombs’
One member of staff from the restaurant who managed to escape told Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star: ‘They blasted several crude bombs, causing wide-scale panic among everyone.
‘I managed to flee during this confusion.’
He added: ‘They came armed with pistols, swords and bombs. They shouted Allahu Akbar [Allah is greater (than your god)] before blasting the bombs.’
The staff member claimed an Argentinian and an Italian are among those being held hostage, however this has not yet been confirmed.
Another witness, who lives near to the restaurant, said he could hear gunfire and it ‘looked quite bad’.
The US Embassy in Dhaka said on its Twitter feed there were ‘reports of shooting and hostage situation’.
It warned people in the area to ‘please shelter in place and monitor news’.
The US State Department said that it was too early to say who was involved or what the motivation might be, but it confirmed that all Americans working at the US mission there had been accounted for.
The restaurant is said to be popular with foreigners, and early reports indicate that there are several among those being held hostage inside (file image inside the restaurant – no indication those pictured are involved)
‘We have accounted for all Americans working for the chief of mission authority,’ State Department spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing.
He said the situation was ‘very fluid, very live’.
Benazir Ahmed, director general of the elite anti-crime force Rapid Action Battalion or RAB, told reporters at 6.20pm GMT that security forces were working to save the lives of the people trapped inside.
‘Some derailed youths have entered the restaurant and launched the attack. We have talked to some of the people who fled the restaurant after the attack,’ he said.
‘We want to resolve this peacefully. We are trying to talk to the attackers, we want to listen to them about what they want.
‘Some of our people have been injured. Our first priority is to save the lives of the people trapped inside.’
He would not confirm how many people were trapped inside the restaurant.
The Washington-based Overseas Security Advisory Council has tweeted that it is monitoring the situation.
It said: ‘If in Dhaka, continue to shelter in place. Monitor local media and follow instructions of local authorities.’
The shooting is reported to have started at around 4.20pm GMT – 9.20pm local time.
The Holey Artisan restaurant is near the Nordic Club, where expatriates of Nordic nations gather, and the Qatar embassy.
Bangladesh has seen a series of attacks, mostly using machetes, targeting bloggers, atheists and religious minorities.
The shoot-out follows the murder of a Hindu temple worker on Friday morning, who was hacked to death in Bangladesh’s southwestern district of Jhenaidah by suspected Islamic militants.
Shyamananda Das was killed by three men on a motorcycle in an early morning attack as he walked on a highway adjacent to his temple.
Police said no group claimed responsibility of the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of recent murders of religious minorities by suspected homegrown Islamists.
More to follow
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