DHAKA, Bangladesh, July 3 (UPI) — Five of the seven gunmen who attacked a Dhaka restaurant Saturday killing 20 people were militants police had tried to arrest previously.
Dhaka police said they discovered this as they investigated for possible links to international terrorist groups, CNN reported.
It is the deadliest terrorist attack, so far, inside Bangladesh, a country that has learned to live with increasing violence by Islamist extremist.
The men stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery located in the affluent diplomatic zone late Friday and started killing some of the more than 50 hostages, mostly those who were non-Muslims. One American, seven Japanese and nine Italians were among the victims.
One hostage who escaped said the militants conducted a religious poll by requiring hostages to recite from the Quran. Those unable to do so were tortured, many of them hacked to death with knives and swords, International Business Times reported.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that citizens from “crusader countries” would not be safe “as long as their aircraft are killing muslims,” the group said in a statement. The IS posted pictures of five grinning fighters it said were involved in the attack standing in front of a black flag.
The IS claims of responsibility have not been independently confirmed.
Bangladeshi troops stormed the cafe early Saturday morning to put an end to the 11-hour siege, during which two police officers were killed exchanging gunfire with the attackers..
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni Silveri said the bodies of 9 Italians have been identified. Many of them had been employed in the garment industry.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said a government plane was headed to Bangladesh to retrieve Italian citizens killed in the massacre. He offered condolences to the families who lost loved ones, saying, “Our values are stronger than hatred and terror.”