Gunmen take at least 20 hostages at cafe in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh, July 1 (UPI) — Gunman are believed to have taken at least 20 hostages, including foreign nationals, at a cafe popular with Westerners in the Gulshan diplomatic zone in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

It is close to the city’s U.S. Embassy, which advised Americans, “Please shelter in place and monitor news.”

A gang of eight or nine gunmen entered Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant and opened fire on Friday.

Police and Rapid Action Battalion members cordoned off the restaurant, and there are reports of three people, including two police officers, wounded.

Sumon Reza, who works in the kitchen at the cafe, managed to escape and said several armed assailants entered the restaurant and took the chief chef hostage.

“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.”

“They shouted Allah hu Akbar before blasting the bombs.”

The cafe is described as being popular with expatriates, diplomats and middle-class families.

High-profile gun attacks are rare in Bangladesh, the BBC reported, but the latest incident follows a series of killings widely blamed on Islamist extremists.

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