Local media outlets are reporting that a group of nine attackers have taken hostages inside a Bangladesh restaurant in a diplomatic zone in the country's capital. Wochit




Bangladeshi security officers stand guard near a restaurant attacked by unidentified gunmen in the early hours of July 2, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.(Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Getty Images)



The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for a hostage takeover Friday at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, that left at least two police officers dead.

The militants' Amaq News Agency said 20 people were killed in the operation at the Holey Artisan Bakery in the city's upscale diplomatic zone, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization that monitors extremist activity online. The death toll could not be immediately confirmed.

Friday’s attack comes the same day as the Islamic State said one of its operatives was behind the hacking death of a Hindu temple worker earlier Friday, in the latest in a series of grisly killings that have rattled the country in the past few years. The group also claimed it killed a Buddhist on Friday, SITE reported.

At least two police officers were killed at Holey Artisan Bakery after some nine gunmen burst into the bakery that adjoins the O'Kitchen restaurant late Friday and took at least 20 people hostage, according to local media and police.

The U.S. State Department reported a "hostage situation" at the location. In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said there was "100% accountability" of Americans working at the embassy, but he would not elaborate on whether all were out of harm's way.

The two police officers were killed in the exchange of gunfire with the assailants. Assistant Commissioner of Ramna Division Shibly Noman told Dhaka Tribune that a police officer at the scene, Salahuddin Ahmed, was killed. Rabiul Islam, assistant commissioner of Detective Branch of Police, also died of injuries at United Hospital, Deputy Commissioner of DB Nazmul Hasan confirmed, according to the paper.

At least 24 police officers were reported injured, including one in critical condition, the newspaper said.

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Sumon Reza, a supervisor at the bakery, said the gunmen were armed with small firearms and a sharp weapon, Dhaka Tribune reported. Local reports said the terrorists tossed grenades at police who besieged the building.

Reza said the gunmen, described as being under 30, shouted "Allah Akbar (God is great)" when they entered the restaurant.

A huge contingent of security guards cordoned off the area around the restaurant, trading gunfire with the attackers who set off bombs and exchanged gunfire with the security forces.

“Some derailed youths have entered the restaurant and launched the attack,” Benazir Ahmed, the head of the elite anti-crime force, Rapid Action Battalion, or RAB, told reporters. “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.”

The assault on the restaurant comes amid dozens of murders, often by hacking but sometimes by shooting, that are part of a wave of violence mostly targeting writers, activists, foreigners and religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country.

Over the past 18 months, 48 killings have been blamed on Islamic militants, with more than half claimed by the Islamic State, according to SITE. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for most of the others.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar-al-Islam group claimed responsibility for the April killing of a U.S. government employee, an editor of an LGBT magazine, after he was hacked to death in Dhaka. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for last month's hacking death of a Hindu priest, a Hindu monastery worker and a Christian grocer.

The government insists neither the Islamic State nor Al-Qaeda have a foothold in Bangladesh, instead blaming homegrown militants. Last month, it began a nationwide crackdown on the incidents, arresting thousands of people after the number of attacks increased.

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