On a solemn evening during Ramadan, people headed to the Holey Artisan Bakery and an upscale restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka. The country is comprised of about 89% Muslims, who fast during day and eat after dark. Foreigners habitué at the café, too, being close to embassies.
At around 9:20 PM a shout of Allah Akbar broke the silence as Islamic terrorists stormed the area and held people captive. They’ve already killed two officers on their way. It was reported that 20 foreigners were killed and 13 were saved after a 10-hour standoff with authorities.
Sumon Reza, a survivor of the attacks, told reporters that the six militias ordered the hostages to recite a passage of the Koran. Those who were able to comply were saved, and even given a meal. However, those who could not were killed.
All 20 victims were foreigners, but their nationalities were not officially disclosed.
The rescue operation was conducted at around 7am the next morning that killed the six gunmen, and captured a seventh. Witnesses say, victims were seen lying on the floor filled with pools of blood. 40 people were injured mainly due to gunshot wounds and bomb shrapnel.
Those who could not cite a verse of the Koran were specifically tortured, survivors said. They weren’t shot but killed using sharp weapons, to make sure they suffered a painful death. Some were even beheaded before them.
This has been the latest of a series of attacks in Bangladesh where religious minorities, such as Christians, Hindus and Buddhists have become targets by Islamic extremists. Also victimized over the past 2 to 3 years were writers, publishers, academicians and foreign workers.
The attacks seem to be directed against those who dare criticize Islam.
ISIS has quickly claimed responsibility over the attacks but security officials have yet to verify this. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks in the past.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has condemned the attacks on national television and vows to launch a major crackdown against militia attacks.
“Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such [an] act. They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism.” Hasina said.
Photo courtesy: Day Donaldson/Flickr