Chronology of Gulshan café crisis

Gunmen have laid a café at Dhaka's diplomatic zone of Gulshan under siege, spawning a hostage situation.

Published : 1 July 2016, 09:33 PM
Updated : 31 July 2016, 09:11 PM

At least two police officials were killed while several others injured were rushed to a hospital in the incident that developed around 9pm Friday.

Militant style killings of writers, bloggers, publishers, religious minorities and dissidents have been frequent in Bangladesh lately, but an attack of such scale within a high-security area is unprecedented.

The information that flowed in to through Liton Haider, the Chief Crime Correspondent, came from witnesses, locals and law-enforcing officials.

Here is timeline of the unfolding events at Gulshan:

# The developments began around 8:45pm at Holey Artisan Bakery in Rd No. 79 near Gulshan-2. The owner of the café is a Spanish citizen, according to the Rapid Action Battalion.

# Eight to 10 men, one of them armed with a sword and the others carrying 'small firearms with big magazines' raided the place, according the restaurant’s supervisor Sumon Reza.

# The men shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great) on their way in and started firing blanks with around 20 guests still inside - several of them foreigners.

# A local resident living a few hundred yards of the bakery told that he, too, heard 'Allahu Akbar' shouts followed by gunshots.

# The assailants then detonated 10-12 bombs. Sumon and another Artisan staff bolted to the roof and fled the two-storey building by jumping out from there.

# Those who were still inside either ignored or rejected calls made by their colleagues, according to Sumon.

# Police appeared nearly a half-hour later and the noise of numerous gunshots filled the place. As police tried to enter the bakery, a grenade was thrown at them, according to a police official.

# A resident from House number 20 on Road 79 told over the phone that police could be heard over the loudspeaker asking people upstairs to come down. They said they believed that an attacker might be trying to hide in the building.

# The man also said he had seen a person in police uniform and helmet lying injured on the ground on the opposite road.

# Blasts and firing at the bakery left 25 people including police personnel injured. Banani OC was rushed to United Hospital in critically injured state only to be declared dead by doctors. Later, Detective Branch Assistant Commissioner Robiul Islam, too, was pronounced dead.

# The intruders triggered two bombs in close succession at 10.35 pm. Sound of firing could be heard intermittently from the attack site.

# RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed rushed to the spot after the blasts, said media persons. "Some armed intruders have entered there. That's all the information we have now. Some waiters have managed to come out. We're talking to them now. We are trying to do something to end this peacefully," he said.

# Asked how many were trapped inside, Benazir did not provide any information. He said, "The life and security of those trapped inside is of paramount importance to us. We also want to talk to the youths who have gone astray and held them hostage."

# In a bid to curb panic and rumour, he urged TV channels to stop beaming live from Gulshan. The TV crew then stopped live telecast from the road.

# Several kilometres of the road was then cordoned off by police who placed barricades at different points in the path leading to Gulshan-2 circle. Assistant Sub Inspector ‘Ershad’, who is in charge of Gulshan-1 checkpost, said the measure had been taken 'so that no criminal can escape'.

# Around 2:30am on Saturday, media reports said Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack but the US State Department said that it "cannot yet confirm" the ISIL link to the Dhaka hostage situation.

# Around 7:30am, security forces launched an assault to free hostages; gunshots and explosions heard. Witnesses say five hostages rescued.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher