20 Killed in Terror Attack at Bangladesh Cafe

On Friday evening, a group of about nine gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan district, and took about 20 to 35 hostages, according to Sumon Reza, a member of the restaurant staff. Reza and ten others escaped via the cafe’s roof before the hostage crisis was fully underway.
Armed with grenades as well as guns, the gunmen killed two police officers and injured 40 other people in an initial fight. Police first closed off the cafe and the surrounding area, attempting to resolve the matter peacefully. However, the Rapid Action Battalion of Bangladesh Police, a group led by Benzir Ahmed equipped to handle large attacks, soon took over.
At about 8 a.m. Saturday (local time) the Dhaka Tribune reported that 100 commandos stormed the cafe, rescuing a total of 18 hostages and killing six gunmen. It’s being reported that the gunman killed 20. After a 13 hour standoff, the cafe is now cleared and authorities are searching the area for anymore gunmen.
The attack has garnered a large amount of media attention, since the cafe was near many foreign embassies. Amaq, a media extension of ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the attack, as they do with most others. Nevertheless, no one can currently verify if the gunmen were members of ISIS. Reports that the attackers yelled “Allahu Akbar” indicate that they were religiously motivated, but that in no way connects them to ISIS.
Although over the past year Bangladesh has seen an increase in religious extremist related violence, such as the murders of gay rights activists and Hindu preists, the Gulshan attack still remains a surprise. Bangladesh, while predominantly Muslim, is a very moderate country where extremist attacks are fairly uncommon. The government under Sheik Hasina has been cracking down on extremism, and denies an ISIS presence.
Moreover, the timing of the attack–in the days leading up to Eid–makes the attack even more shocking.
It’s sad to see such violence during Ramadan and so close to Eid. Hopefully, we can move forward from this attack and others to have a happy and safe Eid.
Written by Zarina Iman.