Twenty foreigners were brutally hacked to death by ISIS militants inside a restaurant popular with expatriates in the high-security diplomatic zone before commandos launched an assault killing six attackers and capturing one alive, ending Bangladesh’s worst terror attack on Saturday.
Director of Military Operations Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said the militants slaughtered 20 hostages before the joint operation led by the armed forces began. Most of those killed were found with their throat slit, he added.
“Army Para commando Unit-1 led the operation and killed six terrorists within 13 minutes,” Chowdhury told reporters.
The mission codenamed ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ was launched after the Prime Minister ordered the army to intervene to end the hostage crisis, he said.
All 20 hostages killed were foreigners, with most being Italian or Japanese. Two senior police officers were also killed in the gunbattle that began last night.
He said the bodies of the victims were recovered during a search in the Holey Artisan Bakery compound after the operation. The bodies were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital morgue for autopsy to confirm their identity.
Gunshots and sounds of explosion rocked the area at 7:40 AM (local time) as security forces launched the final assault to end the siege.
Minutes later, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the end of siege and said security forces “successfully” wrapped up their operation, freeing 13 hostages after killing six terrorists and capturing one militant at the Spanish cafe.
“It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any religion,” she said in a televised speech, referring to the terrorists.
“They (gunmen) defied the call of Ramadan’s tarabi (special evening) prayers and went to kill people…The way they killed people is intolerable. They don’t have any religion…terrorism is their religion,” said Hasina, with Army chief General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq by her side.
“I thank Allah as we could destroy the terrorists and rescue the hostages,” Hasina said, adding that “none of the terrorists could flee the scene, six of them were killed on the spot and one was captured alive.”
Hasina vowed to do everything to “uproot the militants and violent extremists” from Bangladesh.
Among those rescued were Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese nationals, media reports said.
Hasina said around 30 people were injured in the attack.
Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, nearly four hours after the hostage crisis unfolded, according to the US-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity online.
It later issued a number of photographs of what it said were scenes from inside the restaurant. The pictures showed what appeared to be a number of bodies lying in pools of blood. (PTI)