Dhaka – Security forces completed their commando drive and rescued hostages from a restaurant at the Gulshan diplomatic zone in the capital Dhaka at around 9.30am on Saturday bringing an end to a nerve-racking situation within 12 hours, UNB news agency reported.
Official sources said six of the attackers – who slaughtered 20 foreigners – were killed in the raid. Two police officers were killed and around 53 people, including several policemen, injured in an exchange of fire earlier on Friday night. Eighteen people were reported rescued through a joint commando raid launched to end the hostage crisis.
The attackers slaughtered foreigners who along with about 20 others were having food at the restaurant. A formal announcement from the security forces was made through a press conference.
About eight gunmen had entered the Holey Artisan Bakery, a Spanish restaurant on Friday evening and took its inmates hostage. They threw crackers and fired gunshots at law enforcers and people who went near the eatery after they stormed into it.
An armoured personnel carrier (APC) reached the spot around 7.20am on Saturday and special teams of different law enforcement agencies took position around Holey Artisan Bakery. A 30-member Navy commando team reached the spot around 1:15 am on Saturday apparently to launch a drive in order to end the hostage crisis. Police, Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh took part in the operation.
According available information five bodies were seen lying inside the restaurant, but it was unclear whether they were from among the attackers or the hostages.
A group of gunmen held at least 20 people, including foreigners, inside the restaurant hostage.
Chief of Army Staff general Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq reached the spot around 8.10am and Chief of Naval Staff Mohammad Nizamuddin Ahmed at 8.30am.
A foreigner was rescued from the restaurant around 8.20am, said a witness.
Besides, Basic Engineering Company Director Hasanat, his wife and daughter were also rescued, confirmed Hasnat’s uncle Anwarul Karim.
Another sources said Tax Commissioner Borhanuddin’s daughter was also rescued.
Gunshots and heavy sound of explosion started to rock the area at 7:40am.
The journalists had been removed to safe distance from the spot around 5.30am.
Besides, medical corps of Army kept several ambulances prepared.
Jasim Uddin, deputy commissioner (sensory division) said so far 15 people, including some Japanese and Indians, were rescued.
Earlier, two senior police officials were killed and around 53 people, including several policemen, injured in an exchange of gunfire during the attack at night.
The deceased were identified as assistant commissioner of Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Rabiul Islam and officer-in-charge of Banani Police Station Salauddin Khan.
Salauddin’s nephew Mishuk Hasan and Rabiul’s father-in-law Shahjahan Miah told reporters at the gate of United Hospital that the police officers succumbed to injuries they suffered in the gunfight.
At least 50 of the injured, including Additional Deputy Commissioners of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Sheikh M Maruf Hasan and Ahad, were rushed to the United Hospital.
Three other injured — constables Alamgir, 26, and Pradip, 28, and Abdur Razzak, a microbus driver — were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
An assistant commissioner (patrol) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) told UNB that the gunshots erupted at the restaurant on Road-79 of Gulshan-2 around 9:15pm after police rushed in on information.
He said the criminals opened fire and threw grenades at the law enforcers from inside the restaurant, leaving many injured.
Restaurant employee Sumon Reza said he was on the first floor when the gunmen barged into the restaurant.
He said at least 20 foreigners were inside the eatery when the criminals, maximum eight in number, entered it.
Reza said he along with 12-15 other employees went to the rooftop and climbed down outside making use of sewerage pipes.
Members of law enforcement agencies, including police, Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh, went to the spot and cordoned off the restaurant.
Basic Engineering Limited director Hasnat Karim, who along with his wife and son got trapped inside the restaurant, told his family members over mobile phone that they are safe, his uncle Anwar Karim told UNB. Hasnat cried for rescuing them.
Talking to reporters at the spot around 11:15pm, Rab Director General Benazir Ahmed said several gunmen barged into the restaurant after evening.
Benazir said they would try to talk to the criminals and resolve the problem in a peaceful manner as it is their first choice.