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Bangladesh Army: 20 Hostages Killed, 13 Rescued In Dhaka Attack

Bangladeshi soldiers come out of an area of Dhaka, Bangladesh, housing a restaurant popular with foreigners early Saturday, hours after heavily armed militants attacked it on Friday night and took dozens of hostages. Bangladeshi authorities stormed the cafe early on Saturday.

At least 20 people were killed before Bangladesh police forces were able to rescue 13 hostages held by armed attackers at a café in the country's capital, Dhaka, following a 10-hour standoff.

The 20 victims included several foreigners, army spokesman Col. Rashidul Hasan told Reuters on Saturday.

Those victims don't include the six gunmen killed by police during the police siege on Saturday, nor the two police officers killed in an earlier exchange of gunfire.

Explosives and "sharp objects" were recovered at the scene, says Chowdhury.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced in a television broadcast that 13 hostages were rescued and six gunmen had been killed, and one has been captured alive. Hasina said some of the hostages had been killed, but did not say how many.

Bangladesh officials have not disclosed the identities of the victims and the attackers, and it's not clear yet how many of those rescued are foreigners.

The Associated Press reported that a Japanese hostage was freed, but seven others remain unaccounted for, according to a Japanese government spokesman.

Earlier news reports quoted a police official as saying at least 12 hostages were freed and five bodies were found, in a pool of blood, by a squad of army troops and local police who forced their way into the café.

According to Reuters, two police officers were killed and at least 20 wounded in an earlier gunbattle between police and the assailants. Police estimate between six and ten attackers are involved.

People help an unidentified injured person after gunmen attacked a cafe popular with foreigners in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, on Friday.
/ AP
People help an unidentified injured person after gunmen attacked a cafe popular with foreigners in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, on Friday.

It's not clear how many casualties resulted from the militants' original attack.

The Associated Press cites a café worker, Sumon Reza, as saying at least 35 people, including about 20 foreigners, were trapped inside. Reza says he was one of 10 people who managed to escape through the rooftop when the militants moved in Friday night.

The U.S State Department and local media say the café, popular among foreigners, is in an upscale neighborhood called Gulshan that's home to many foreign embassies.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by its Aamaq news agency, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites. The group posted photos of what it claims to be dead foreigners killed during the Dhaka café attack, although NPR could not independently verify their authenticity. U.S. officials also say they have no independent confirmation that ISIS is linked to the siege.

According to the Dhaka Tribune, the director general of the Rapid Action Brigade, Benazir Ahmed, said there was shooting at the cafe and that a hostage situation was unfolding elsewhere in the same building, at the O'kitchen restaurant. However, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka said the hostage situation was happening at the Holey bakery.

The embassy tweeted that people should shelter in place.

"Some derailed youths have entered the restaurant and launched the attack," Ahmed told The Associated Press. "We have talked to some of the people who fled the restaurant after the attack. We want to resolve this peacefully. We are trying to talk to the attackers, we want to listen to them about what they want."

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday that the situation is "very fluid, very live." He said "all American citizens working under the Chief of Mission Authority" have been accounted for, but the department is still working to account for staffers of other nationalities.

It's not clear what motivated the attack. But Bangladesh has recently seen a string of armed attacks against prominent atheists, secularists and members of the LGBT community.

There are multiple active militant groups in the country, including an al-Qaida affiliate. ISIS has claimed responsibility for some recent attacks, though Bangladeshi authorities say the group has no presence in the country.

This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

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