U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh Orders People to Shelter in Place Amid Hostage Situation

Dhaka, Bangladesh
Muslims pray on an open street on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Dhaka, Bangladesh / AP
July 1, 2016

Gunmen stormed a restaurant frequented by foreigners in the diplomatic zone of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday and took hostages.

Officials said that foreigners were among multiple hostages taken by the attackers at the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe, BBC reported. Police were engaged in a firefight with the attackers at the restaurant.

"We want to resolve this peacefully. We are trying to talk to the attackers," Benazir Ahmed, chief of Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion, said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Amaq News Agency, the terrorist organization’s media branch.

The State Department asked U.S. citizens near the Gulshan area of Dhaka to "contact loved ones directly or use social media to alert them of your status."

Earlier, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka issued a shelter in place order to individuals in the area amid reports of the shooting and hostage situation, which began to unfold around 9:30 p.m. local time.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that at least 20 civilians, most of them foreigners, had been taken hostage inside the restaurant in Dhaka. Some reports indicated that there were between six and eight gunmen involved in the attack.

The attackers were said to be throwing grenades at police officers. At least two police officers were shot dead in the firefight, CNN reported, and dozens of individuals injured.

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs wrote on Twitter that a hostage situation was taking place at the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in the diplomatic enclave. The department directed individuals to monitor local news reports.

A witness who works at the bakery and who escaped the attack told the Dhaka Tribune that 20 people, all of them foreigners, were inside when two attackers entered with small firearms. He reported that the attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar" when entering the bakery. These reports have not been confirmed.

This post will be updated as further information becomes available.