Authorities have confirmed that at least 12 of 20 hostages held at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan neighborhood were killed and identified those confirmed dead, including two students enrolled at Emory University in Georgia, Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain, CNN reported. Two Bangladeshi police officers also died. A third hostage killed was Tarushi Jain, an Indian national studying at the University of California at Berkeley, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs. Nine others killed were Italian citizens: Vincenzo D’Allestro, Simona Monti, Marco Tondat, Adele Puglisi, Claudia Maria D’Antona, Cristian Rossi, and Nadia Benedetti, Claudio Cappelli and Maria Rivoli. The attackers initially held 36 hostages, but some managed to escape and others were rescued. Six of seven attackers died, with one taken into custody.
At 7:40 a.m., a team of elite Bangladeshi troops conducted a rescue operation to free the hostages, 11 hours after the initial attack. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the hostage situation when it began July 1 but it is still unclear which group was truly responsible for the attack. Outlets for both the Islamic State and Ansar al-Islam, al Qaeda’s Bangladeshi franchise, have issued claims of responsibility. The militants at the Holey Artisan Bakery were most likely local fighters affiliated with domestic jihadist groupswhich have connections to foreign groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. Although there have been numerous militant attacks on foreigners and activists in Bangladesh, this was the first hostage standoff attack since 2013. In the April edition of its glossy magazine, Dabiq, the head of Islamic State operations in Bangladesh, Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, discussed the group’s goals for the country, including stepped up attacks and pressure on other jihadist groups.