Late Friday night in the diplomatic district of Dhaka, Bangladesh, ISIS gunmen carried out an attack at one of the city’s popular local restaurants. Two policemen have been killed in the vicious, ongoing standoff, and 30 have been injured.
According to the New York Times, the Holey Artisan Bakery is an eatery frequented by foreigners—diplomats and expatriates, in particular—thereby rendering it an attractive target for Islamic extremists. Between eight and 10 men entered the restaurant at 8:45 p.m., laden with explosives, pistols, and swords. They detonated several of the bombs and opened fire immediately after yelling “God is great.”
Those inside the restaurant were taken hostage—roughly 20 patrons and employees—although a few people were able to escape amidst the bedlam. The Bangladeshi counterterrorism force, Rapid Action Battalion, has attempted to make contact with the hostage-takers, but nearly eight hours later, the prisoners have not been released.
Family members of the hostages have gathered outside the restaurant, which is currently cordoned off and surrounded by armed paramilitary officers. So far the identities of the hostages and the attackers are unknown, although it has been determined that roughly seven Italian nationals are inside.
American citizens in Dhaka have been alerted to the attack and, according to the State Department, government employees stationed there are out of harm’s way. But, as State Department spokesperson John Kirby says, “The situation’s ongoing...it’s all still unfolding right now.”
Bangladesh has seen as many as 18 attacks claimed by ISIS this year, although most have been less elaborate than the one taking place in Dhaka now. The country’s government nevertheless maintains that neither the Islamic State nor Al Qaeda have terrorist cells within its borders.
Top Image via AP. Embedded Image via Twitter.