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20 hostages killed in Bangladesh cafe siege: army

The attack on a cafe in the Bangladeshi capital left 26 people dead including six armed attackers, the Bangladesh army said on Saturday, most killed with sharp weapons.

“We’ve recovered 20 bodies. Most them had been brutally hacked to death with sharp weapons,” Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury told reporters in Dhaka, without giving the nationality of the victims.

Army Brigadier General Naim Asraf Chowdhury told a news conference 13 people were rescued including one Japanese and two Sri Lankans.

The army concluded an operation to clear the cafe on Saturday after a 12-hour siege that began when gunmen stormed the restaurant, which was popular with foreigners, on Friday night.

Gunmen attacked the upscale cafe in the diplomatic area of Dhaka late on Friday and had been holding about 20 hostages, including foreigners, before police poured into the building to try to free those stuck inside. At least two police were killed, authorities said.

“The operation is over. The situation is completely under control,” army spokesman Colonel Rashidul Hasan told AFP.

Tuhin Mohammad Masud, a commander of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) which stormed the cafe, said there had been a number of casualties, including six hostage-takers.

“We have gunned down six of the terrorists. The main area that they have been occupying has been cleared,” Masud told Times Now.

A police official earlier said five bodies were seen lying in pools of blood, the Associated Press reported.

Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan, a deputy director at the RAB force told Reuters one foreigner, probably Japanese, was among those who escaped after more than 100 commandos launched an operation to secure the upmarket cafe.

The militant Islamic State (IS), which has claimed the attacks, posted photos of what it said were dead foreigners killed in the assault on the cafe.

Gowher Rizvi, an adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, told Reuters that security forces had tried to negotiate a way out of the crisis.

Police said the gunmen attacked the upscale Holey Artisan restaurant in the Gulshan district of Dhaka, popular with expatriates, in an assault that began around 9pm local time on Friday.

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