In wake of a recent increase in deadly terrorist attacks spanning the entire world, another brutal attack has struck the people of Bangladesh and left at least 20 people dead.
Its reported that Jihadist extremists hacked 20 people to death in a cafe in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka. The terrorists only spared those who could recite from the Koran, before they were gunned down by Bangladeshi commandos.
Witnesses said seven Islamist radicals stormed the Holey Artisan bakery and cafe last night armed with assault weapons, pistols and ‘sharp objects’ before taking more than 30 people hostage.
They killed nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, an American and two local men before elite commandos ended the 12-hour standoff by storming the cafe.
Six of the hostage-takers were killed and one was arrested.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared two days of national mourning after the massacre in the upmarket Gulshan district of the city.
In a statement on television she said: ‘It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any religion.’
Most of the Italian victims were understood to work in the fashion industry, buying fabrics from Bangladesh.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the five men and two women who died worked for the country’s foreign aid agency and ‘were giving their all for the development of Bangladesh’.
ISIS posted pictures of five of the attackers online along with a statement: ‘Let the people of the crusader countries know that there is no safety for them as long as their aircraft are killing Muslims.’
The statement is believed to be aimed at British and American air strikes in Syria and Iraq, although neither Italy or Japan are involved in that campaign.
Bangladesh has seen an increased amount of Islamist terrorism in recent years with attacks on non-Muslims, bloggers, atheists, secular activists and even LGBT campaigners. But this is the first concerted attack on foreigners.
The Italian foreign ministry confirmed the dead as: Adele Puglisi, Marco Tondat, Claudia Maria D’Antona, Nadia Benedetti, Vincenzo D’Allestro, Maria Rivoli, Cristian Rossi, Claudio Cappelli, and Simona Monti.
Agnese Barolo, who lives in Dhaka, said one of the dead was the wife of an Italian businessman, who was killed by a machete.
She was found by her husband after he spent all night hiding behind a tree outside the cafe while the gunmen were inside.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed declared two days of mourning for the victims to take place on Sunday and Monday. She also thanked all those who had expressed their solidarity with Bangladesh, and vowed that terrorism would be exterminated at all costs.
Sheikh Hasina added: ‘Islam is a religion of peace. Stop killing in the name of the religion. Please stop tarnishing our noble religion…I implore you to come back to the rightful path and uphold the pride of Islam.’
Army Brigadier General Naim Asraf Chowdhury said: ‘Most of (the hostages) were killed mercilessly by sharp weapons last night.’
On Friday night, Bangladeshi resident Hasnat Karim said he brought his family to the cafe in order to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.
Hasnat was too traumatised to say more than a few words about his ordeal, saying only that the hostage-takers ‘did not misbehave with us’.
But he detailed to his father Rezaul how the gunmen – who were armed with automatic weapons, bombs and makeshift machetes – had split the diners into two groups.
Rezaul said: ‘(The foreigners) were taken to the upper floor and the Bangladeshis were kept around a table.’
He said his son told him the terrorists ‘did not hit people who could recite verses from the Koran. The others were tortured’.
He added: ‘The gunmen asked everyone inside to recite from the Koran. Those who recited were spared. The gunmen even gave them meals last night.’
Speaking after the raid, Lieutenant Colonel Tuhin Mohammed Masud, commander of the Rapid Action Battalion said: ‘We have gunned down at least six terrorists and the main building is cleared but the operation is still going on.’
One member of staff from the restaurant who managed to escape, Sumon Reza, told Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star: ‘They blasted several crude bombs, causing wide-scale panic among everyone. I managed to flee during this confusion.’
He added: ‘They came armed with pistols, swords and bombs. They shouted Allahu Akbar [God is great] before blasting the bombs.’
ISIS claimed 24 people had been killed and a further 40 were wounded in the attack. Images of the carnage were distributed on social media channels with links to the jihadi terror organisation.
Bangladeshi officials have said 20 have died with a number of others in a critical condition in hospital.
Hospital staff dealing with casualties said of the 26 people they are currently treating, ten are in a critical condition with six on life support.
Victims suffered broken bones and gunshot wounds.