Rome: The death toll from the terrorist attack in Bangladesh, which left 20 civilians, two police officers and six attackers dead, could have been much heavier, one survivor told Italian media on Saturday.
Diego Rivera is an Argentine chef who worked in the Dhaka restaurant that was targeted on Friday night. He managed to flee from the attackers, along with other staff, climbing on a roof above the kitchen and then jumping off it.
"It was just after 8:30 pm, I was in the kitchen area where plates go out for serving. Luckily there were few customers. It could have been a much bigger tragedy," Rivera was quoted as saying by the La Repubblica newspaper.
He said the attackers were aged 20 to 25, shouted "Allah hu Akbar" ("God is Great" in Arabic) and carried "big bags with explosives, bombs and grenades," as well as blades.
"I know they killed some Chinese, an Indian and some Bangladeshi. But many of the victims are Italians," he said.
Most of the Italian customers were businessmen, Rivera said. One saved himself "because he received a phone call and got out of the restaurant. Then he hid behind a plant. I am not sure that his wife survived."
In separate comments to the Italian ANSA news agency, from the compound of the Italian embassy where he was offered refuge, the survivor added: "The attackers were only looking for foreigners."
Another cook, Italian Jacopo Bioni, also spoke to La Repubblica.
"I was working in the kitchen when a group of Italian friends arrived, all working in the textile sector, frequent customers of the restaurant," Bioni said. "I think they are all dead."
"I ran away with Diego and other colleagues in the opposite direction [of the attackers]. From the back of the kitchen there are stairs leading to the roof on the second floor. Then they started shooting and launching grenades at us, so we jumped off."