DHAKA, Bangladesh, Jul 2 – A group of hostage-takers murdered 20 foreigners, hacking many of their victims to death, before six attackers were gunned down by Bangladesh commandos at the end of an overnight siege Saturday at an upmarket restaurant.
As the Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the carnage at the start of the Eid holiday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she was determined to eradicate militancy in the mainly Muslim nation.
Survivors told of how the hostage-takers separated locals from the foreigners who were eating side-by-side before embarking on a killing spree which was brought to an end 11 hours later in a fierce gunbattle.
Although there was no exact breakdown of the casualties, the army said most of the slain civilians were either Italian or Japanese. Most had been slaughtered with sharpened weapons.
Two police officers were also killed at the start of the siege while a total of six attackers were shot dead at its finale.
One of the assailants was captured alive and arrested, the army said.
Hasina’s government has previously blamed a string of deadly attacks, targeting religious minorities and foreigners, on her domestic opponents but the incident will heighten fears that IS’s reach is spreading.
“It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these people?” said Hasina in a televised address.
The attack, by far the deadliest of a recent wave of killings claimed by IS or a local Al-Qaeda offshoot, was carried out in a neighbourhood which is home to the country’s elite and houses many of the major embassies.