Bangladesh security forces including commandos have stormed a restaurant in the capital where dozens of people including foreigners were being held hostage by suspected Islamist militants.
Gunmen reported to be allied with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked the restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, with police saying several patrons, including foreigners, were still inside.
The operation to free the hostages began at 7.40am local time, around 10 hours after the siege began. The gunfire stopped about 45 minutes later, with police saying 8-10 hostages were rescued.
Earlier one suspected attacker was reportedly injured, arrested and taken to hospital.
So Insar-Ul-Islam confirms by this tweet that its there elements today who are causing mayhem in #Dhaka, Bangladesh. pic.twitter.com/2VK2ndhYT5
Two policemen were killed by gunfire that erupted as police surrounded the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in the upmarket Gulshan area. Unconfirmed reports suggested 50 police had been wounded.
It is not known how many casualties there are inside the restaurant. The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said the group was behind the attack and that “more than 20 people of different nationalities (were) killed”. Isil has posted photos of what it said were dead foreigners killed in the assault on the cafe.
The affluent suburb of Gulshan is popular with expats and Westerners.
Sumon Reza, an employee of the restaurant who witnessed the attack, escape, told Bangladeshi media the assailants had taken hostages and shouted “Allahu Akbar” before detonating explosive devices.
He told the Daily Star website: “They blasted several crude bombs causing wide-scale panic among everyone. I managed to flee during this confusion,” he said. “They came armed with pistols, swords and bombs.”
Bangladesh has seen a series of attacks recently, mostly using machetes, targeting bloggers, atheists and religious minorities.