Early reports were hesitant to label this a terror attack but it seems ISIS has now claimed responsibility for the attack via it’s own news agency. From Fox News:
A group of up to nine attackers set off bombs and took hostages while shouting “Allahu Akbar” inside a restaurant frequented by both locals and foreigners in a diplomatic zone in Bangladesh’s capital, local media reported Friday.
ISIS’ Amaq News Agency later reported that ISIS fighters carried out the attack.
The Dhaka Tribune reports a supervisor who escaped the restaurant when the gunmen entered made the claim about the gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
Sumon Reza, superviser at the bakery, who escaped the attack, told reporters that at least 20 people were at the bakery when the attack began and all of them were foreigners. He saw two attackers and both of them were slim and appeared to be under 30. He said they had small firearms and at least one was carrying a sharp weapon. He said the attackers were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ when coming into the bakery. Two of the bakery’s staff are also foreigners, he said. One baker, an Italian, had escaped the attack but the other one, an Argentine, could not, according to Reza. His information could not immediately be verified.
CNN reports 6-8 gunmen and 20 hostages. CNN also says at least one police officer has been killed in the gun battle with the attackers.
Earlier today in Bangladesh, a Hindu priest was hacked to death by three men who approached him on bicycles while he was gathering flowers. The attack is similar to other attacks by Islamic extremists which have taken place in the last two years. The attackers have targeted atheists and religious minorities, especially outspoken public figures who criticized Islamic extremism. Hot Air reported on the death of a 26-year-old secular blogger and the killing of the editor of a gay rights magazine, both of which took place in April.
In response, the government of Bangladesh has instituted a nationwide sweep for militants which has resulted in over 14,000 arrests. From CNN:
The government launched an anti-militant drive across the Muslim-majority nation last month to stamp out the murders, but many of those detained are believed to be ordinary criminals and not Islamic extremists.
Home to almost 150 million Muslims, the country until recently had avoided the kind of radicalism plaguing others parts of the world. But that’s changing as the attacks seem designed to silence those to dare to criticize Islam.
CNN spoke to a former CIA officer who described the rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh as “something new, something that no one predicted five years ago.”