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20 hostages killed after 10-hour siege at Bangladesh cafe

Published 02/07/2016

Twenty hostages have been killed in a siege at a cafe in Bangladesh, the country's government has said.

Security forces killed at least six militants and freed another 13 people after a 10-hour stand-off at the restaurant, popular with foreign diplomats, in the capital Dhaka.

Gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in the Gulshan area, a diplomatic zone, on Friday night.

More than 100 commandos began a co-ordinated response on Saturday morning in an attempt to free the reported 35 hostages, including around 20 foreigners.

A Japanese government spokesman said a Japanese hostage was rescued with a gunshot wound but seven others are unaccounted for.

Deputy chief cabinet secretary Koichi Hagiuda said that the eight were together at the restaurant during the attack.

Bangladesh military spokesman Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said two police officers were also killed when the attackers stormed the restaurant and opened fire.

Paramilitary troops who mounted the rescue operation have recovered explosives from the scene.

As many as nine gunmen targeted the eatery and exchanged gunfire with police officers while also throwing explosives.

Gunfire and explosions could be heard as they swooped and battled the militants in a bid to end the siege.

The Foreign Office has warned British travellers in the area to stay away from public areas.

In a statement, it said that after the incident "we advise you to remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities", continuing: "Until further notice we specifically advise against visiting areas where foreign nationals are known to congregate such as public areas of International Hotels, large supermarkets, restaurants and clubs."

Lieutenant Colonel Tuhin Mohammad Masud said some militants were captured.

He added: "We have gunned down at least six terrorists and the main building is cleared but the operation is still going on."

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

Two officers have been killed and authorities said another 25 officers and one civilian were being treated for injuries, including 10 people listed in critical condition. The injuries include bullet wounds and broken bones.

The bodies of nine Italians have been identified after the attack, the Italian foreign minister said.

Paolo Gentiloni told reporters that there was another, unidentified body in the military morgue of Bangladesh but the nationality has not yet been determined.

Italian news reports had said around 10 Italians were inside the restaurant in Dhaka.

One of the victims had earlier been identified by Italian media as a 47-year-old manager from north-eastern Italy.

Meanwhile, India's foreign minister said an Indian girl was among the 20 hostages killed.

Sushma Swaraj said she is "extremely pained to share that the terrorists have killed Tarushi, an Indian girl who was taken hostage in the terror attack in Dhaka".

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