Islamic State claims Dhaka attack, says it deliberately targeted 'Crusader countries'

Dhaka: The Islamic State group has claimed at an attack on an upscale Bangladesh restaurant in which militants killed 20 hostages, saying it targeted the citizens of "Crusader countries" in the capital, Dhaka.

The statement was circulated by supporters of the group on the Telegram messaging service Saturday. It resembled previous statements released by the extremist group.

Bangladeshi security forces block the road after militants took hostages at a restaurant. AP

Bangladeshi security forces block the road after militants took hostages at a restaurant. AP

Bangladeshi forces stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka 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.

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said nine Italians were killed, and India's government confirmed Tarishi Jain was killed. The overall toll of 28 dead included two police officers who were killed at the start of the attack.

It was not immediately clear if the Islamic State leadership in Syria and Iraq was involved in the planning the attack. IS has previously claimed attacks carried out by so-called lone wolf attackers with no known connection to the group.

The hostage-taking marked a sharp escalation of the 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.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the attack and said security officials arrested one of the militants.

"Because of the effort of the joint force, the terrorists could not flee," Hasina said in a nationally televised speech, vowing to fight militant attacks in the country and urged people to come forward.

"Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such act," Hasina said. "They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism."

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Updated Date: Jul 02, 2016 22:23:11 IST

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