Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Two police officers were killed as law enforcers try to smoke out gunmen who took a number of people, including foreigners, hostage inside at a Spanish restaurant in Dhaka Friday evening.
The deceased were identified as assistant commissioner of Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Rabiul Islam and officer-in-charge of Banani Police Station Salauddin Khan.
Salauddin’s nephew Mishuk Hasan and Rabiul’s father-in-law Shahjahan Miah told reporters at the gate of United Hospital in Dhaka that the police officers succumbed to injuries they suffered in the gunfight.
Witnesses said several gunmen barged into Holey Artisan Bakery, which is popular with foreigners, on Road-79 of Gulshan-2 around 8:45pm (local time).
Meanwhile, a 30-member Navy commando team reached the spot around 1:15 am on Saturday apparently to launch a drive in order to end the hostage crisis, according to reports.
On the other hand, the United States and United Kingdom have advised its citizen in Bangladesh to remain alert and take shelter in safe places following the gunfight.
The United States alerted its citizens to the ongoing potential for extremist violence in Bangladesh. This Travel Alert expires on July 22, 2016.
“There are reports of a shooting and hostage situation in Gulshan 2, Dhaka. Please shelter in place and monitor the news,” said the US Embassy in a Facebook notice.
“There are reports of a firearms incident in the Gulshan 2 area of Dhaka. If you are you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities,” according to UK travel advice.
Police and security forces have sealed off the area and are trying to negotiate the hostages’ release.
“We want to resolve this peacefully. We are trying to talk to the attackers,” said Benazir Ahmed, chief of the Rapid Action Battalion, Bangladesh’s elite police force. “Our first priority is to save the lives of the people trapped inside.”
Last reported around 12:30am (local time), police were trying to establish communication for a negotiation. However, no demands have been placed from the criminal group so far.
Monirul Islam, additional commissioner of Bangladesh’s counter terrorism unit, told The Daily Star, a local newspaper, that some people were being held hostage at gunpoint inside the restaurant.
The gunshots erupted at the restaurant at about 9:15pm (local time) after police rushed in on information, according to a police official.
He said the criminals opened fire and threw grenades at the law enforcers from inside the restaurant, leaving many injured.
Sumon Reza, a employee of the restaurant, said he was on the 1st floor when the gunmen barged into the restaurant.
He said at least 20 foreigners were inside the eatery when the criminals, maximum eight in number, entered it.
Mr. Reza also said he along with 12-15 other employees went to the rooftop and climbed down outside through pipes.