“We have found 20 bodies and all of them were murdered in the night using sharp weapons,” Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury told a media briefing around 12:30pm Saturday.
All 20 were foreign nationals, said Chowdhury, the director of military operations at Bangladesh Army.
He said that 13 people, including a Japanese and two Sri Lankans, were rescued from the restaurant after commandos stormed it on Saturday morning.
The commandos took less than 15 minutes to complete the operation.
“Within 12 to 13 minutes our men were able to take out the terrorists and took total control,” said Chowdhury.
He said that there were seven attackers, one of whom was captured alive, and the rest killed during the assault.
The gunmen barged into the restaurant in the Gulshan diplomatic zone around 8:45 on Friday night and took the guests inside hostage.
The hostage standoff ended almost 12 hours later after army commandos initiated ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ on Saturday morning to free the hostages.
“The para commandos started their operation at 7:40am, which successfully ended at 8:30am,” said Brigadier General Chowdhury.
He said those killed by the attackers were foreigners but did not disclose their identity.
“ Autopsies will be conducted at the Combined Military Hospital on all the dead bodies ,” said Chowdhury.
He advised to contact the army’s provost marshal by phone at +8801769012524 for any query on the identity of the deceased hostages.
Aftermath of the raid
>>Twenty foreign nationals killed by attackers.
>>Thirteen hostages, including three foreigners rescued alive
>> Six of the gunmen killed during the raid, one captured alive
With a lawn inside the premises, the Holey Artisan Bakery and O Kitchen restaurant at in Road No. 79 near Gulshan-2, was popular among foreigners living in Bangladesh.
“Around 9pm on Friday, the attackers entered the cafe firing from their guns,” said the army spokesperson.
Police moved in immediately leading to an exchange of fire, in which two police officers died.
Soon after, the Rapid Action Battalion sealed off the area.
“In the wake of the situation, the head of the government instructed the army to conduct a raid, when the Bangladesh Army chalked out Operation Thunderbolt,” said Brigadier Chowdhury.
Seizures from the scene
>> Four pistols
>> An AK-22 semi-automatic assault rifle
>> Four unexploded IEDs (improvised explosive devices)
>> Several sharp weapons
Army, navy and air force personnel joined police and RAB at the scene early morning Saturday.
The commandos stormed the restaurant and neutralised the attackers within less than 15 minutes.
The bodies of 20 foreigners were found after a search was conducted. “All of them were murdered in the night brutally by sharp weapons,” said Chowdhury, the military operations chief of the army.
Five hours after the hostage crisis begun, monitoring group SITE Intelligence reported that Middle East-based militant group the Islamic State claimed the attack.
Bangladesh authorities have been denying the group’s presence in the country, but speaking at a programme on Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has described the hostage crisis as a ‘terror attack’.