Bangladeshi forces stormed an upscale Dhaka restaurant where heavily armed militants held dozens of people hostage Saturday morning, killing at least six of the attackers and rescuing 13 captives including foreigners at the end of the 10-hour standoff.
Gunshots and sounds of explosion rocked the area at 7:40 am (local time) as security forces launched an offensive to end the siege at the Holy Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's Gulshan diplomatic zone.
"We have gunned down at least six terrorists and the main building is cleared but the operation is still going on," Lt. Col. Tuhin Mohammad Masud, commander of the Rapid Action Battalion, told The Associated Press three hours after the commandos launched the rescue operation.
A total of 18 people were rescued from the restaurant, a senior police official said.
Among the rescued are Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese nationals. Some of them are injured, said Mohammad Jashim, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadis activity online. A news agency affiliated with the Islamic Group claimed that 24 people had been killed and 40 wounded, including foreigners, according to SITE. The figures could not be independently confirmed.
Police said the two officers died at a hospital after being wounded in the initial gunfire with as many as nine attackers, who also hurled bombs. Ten of 26 people who were wounded when the militants opened fire were listed in critical condition, and six were on life support.
Kitchen staffer Sumon Reza, who escaped, said the attackers chanted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) as they launched the attack around 9:20 p.m. Friday, initially opening fire with blanks.