John covered the early reports of a hostage situation in the capital of Bangladesh last night which was quickly identified as yet another ISIS attack on a crowded civilian target. (There remain questions as to whether or not al Qaeda was tangentially involved because the two terror groups have been engaged in some internecine battles in the region, but ISIS quickly took credit for this one.) As of this morning, government forces have moved in and ended the standoff, but it’s yet another scene of bloody carnage.
The gunmen were shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they launched an attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the Gulshan district of Dhaka. The area is popular with foreign diplomats and most of the victims were not natives. It’s also located very close to the US embassy. (Washington Post)
Bangladeshi forces stormed an upscale Dhaka restaurant to end a hostage-taking by heavily armed militants early Saturday, killing six of the attackers and rescuing 13 captives including foreigners. The military said 20 hostages were killed during the 10-hour standoff, and a survivor’s father said the attackers spared people who could recite verses from the Quran.
The attack marks an escalation in militant violence that has hit the traditionally moderate Muslim-majority nation with increasing frequency in recent months. Previous attacks involved machete-wielding men singling out individual activists, foreigners and religious minorities.
About 35 people were taken hostage Friday night when gunmen stormed the popular Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan area, a diplomatic zone, during the Ramadan holy month. Two police officers were killed at the start of the attack.
As with most developing stories, particularly ones from the other side of the world, the early reports contained some errors. CNN was reporting this morning that one of the attackers survived the assault by military troops and law enforcement, and may be available for questioning after medical treatment. It’s also worth noting that there were at least seven attackers and local news sources report that they were well stocked with military hardware. Many of the killings of the victims were described in the press has having been done with “sharp weapons” (beheadings with machetes), but in addition to guns they had a stockpile of grenades and detonated many of them inside the cafe.
While it doesn’t garner as many headlines as other troubled areas of the Muslim world, Bangladesh has been teetering on the brink of chaos for a while now. This attack took place on the same day that a Hindu priest was hacked to death by three men on bicycles while he was gathering flowers. The terrorists have been killing bloggers and activists who dare to speak out against Islamic terrorism or criticize them in any fashion. CNN is also reporting that there have been at least 35 “hacking deaths” in the past 14 months.
I would also note that this isn’t some small, remote location with little connection to the modern world. Bangladesh is the world’s eighth most populous country and the third most populous Muslim majority nation. Why do we need to highlight this? Because Islamic terrorism is not limited to one or two unstable, broken regions of the planet. While too many western leaders (including here in the United States) are loathe to point this out, we’re not dealing with a handful of disaffected radicals. This infection is spread across most of the Muslim world and the sooner we come to grips with that fact the better.
UPDATE: (Jazz) The news becomes even more dire and hits home. One of the dead is an American student from Emory University.
Emory University says in an email to employees that one of the Dhaka restaurant attack victims was Abinta Kabir, a student at the school’s campus in Oxford, Georgia. She was visiting family and friends in Bangladesh when she was taken hostage and killed.
University president James Wagner said that Abinta’s mother, with whom he had had contact, was in “unspeakable pain” upon receiving news of the death of her daughter.
Our prayers are with the family and friends of Ms. Kabir.