• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Bangladesh siege ends with 20 hostages dead, 13 rescued


Twenty people, most said to be foreigners, have been killed in an attack on a cafe in Bangladesh claimed by so-called Islamic State.
Gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka late on Friday before troops entered almost 12 hours later.
Six attackers were also killed and one was arrested, officials said. Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina has declared two days of national mourning.
At least nine Italians and seven Japanese were among those killed.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said one other Italian was still unaccounted for. Many of the Italians reportedly worked in the garment industry.
Japan said eight of its nationals were in the cafe. One was among 13 people rescued but the other seven died.
All were consultants for Japan’s foreign aid agency and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they “were giving their all for the development of Bangladesh”.
The army had initially said all hostages killed were foreigners, but later reports said some Bangladeshis also died.
In other developments:
India’s foreign minister said a young Indian woman was among the dead
Two Sri Lankans were among those rescued
Bangladesh Army Brig Gen Naim Asraf Chowdhury said the victims had been “brutally” attacked with sharp weapons
Pope Francis condemned the attack as an “offence against God and humanity”
The siege began as diners gathered to break their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper said the gunmen tortured anyone who was unable to recite the Koran. They provided meals overnight for only the Bangladeshi captives, it said.
“It was an extremely heinous act,”  Hasina said in a televised statement. “What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any religion.