Asia, Terrorism

20 Killed in Islamist Militants’ Siege in Bangladesh

20 Killed in Islamist Militants’ Siege in Bangladesh

On Saturday, Islamist militants killed about 20 people in an upmarket restaurant in the capital of Bangladesh, which included seven Japanese, nine Italians and one American, before the building was stormed by the security forces and the 12-hour standoff brought to a close. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for carrying out one of the most brazen attacks in the history of South Asia, but there has been no confirmation of the claim as yet. This attack indicates an escalation in the campaign by the militants in the past 18 months where they have targeted those individuals who advocate a liberal or secular lifestyle in Bangladesh, which is a Muslim-majority country and has a population of 160 million people.

A source familiar with the police investigation said that late on Friday night, the busy restaurant in the diplomatic area of Dhaka was stormed by the gunmen who ordered all Bangladeshis to stand up before they began shooting at foreigners. A statement was made by the Islamic State in which they said that as long as their aircrafts killed Muslims, the people belonging to the crusader countries would not be safe. It also posted pictures of five fighters who, it claimed, were involved in the attack.

The dead included the wife of an Italian businessman and was killed with a machete. According to one of the husband’s friend, Agnese Barolo, who lives in Dhaka, the husband had spent the night hiding behind a tree outside the café when the gunmen were inside. The foreign minister of the country said that nine Italians died in the attack and authorities were trying to confirm the fate of a missing person. Yoshihide Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan said that seven of their citizens had been killed in the attack whereas India’s foreign minister tweeted that the assault killed a 19-year-old female Indian student.

In a statement, the Emory University in Atlanta said that two of its students who were among the hostages died in the attack. It was confirmed by the US State Department that one US citizen was killed in the assault, but the person was not identified. The department stated that they were communicating with the Bangladeshi government and had offered their assistance in the investigation. The Bangladesh government hasn’t yet said where all the victims were from. However, the confidence of Bangladesh’s expatriate community will undoubtedly be shattered due to the death of foreigners.

Lots of these foreigners were working for multinationals in the country’s garment industry, which is worth $26 billion. This is about 15% of the economy. After China, Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of apparel in the world. The army said that they had rescued thirteen hostages, which included two Sri Lankans and one Japanese. Colonel Rashidul Hasan, a spokesman for the Army said that they couldn’t confirm the nationality of all the victims yet, but sharp weapons had been used for killing most of them. He added that initially they thought all victims were foreigners, but some were local as well.

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