Islamist militants, claiming allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), are continuing their war against soft targets related to recreation, travel and tourism, with the latest rampage resulting in the death of 20 people on Saturday.
The dead, including at least nine Italians, seven Japanese and three American students, were trapped inside an upmarket restaurant in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka when Islamist gunmen stormed it.
The restaurant is popular with foreigners. The terrorists ordered all Bangladeshis to stand up and then hacked the foreigners to death with machetes. A hostage situation lasting hours developed before security forces stormed the building and shot the terrorists dead. Claims this morning that the attackers were all university students from comparatively affluent families added a further bizarre touch.
The latest outrage comes after gun and bomb attacks on airports in Turkey and Brussels and other attacks by Islamists on soft targets such as holiday resorts, civilian airliners, hotels, nightclubs, concerts and railway stations.
In the Dhaka case, the attackers used knives and machetes as well as guns. ISIS said it was responsible.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued a statement: “A hostage taking incident in the Gulshan 2 area of Dhaka on 1-2 July 2016 has been resolved. But the area is still under investigation with movement restrictions in place. You should continue to avoid the Gulshan 2 area for the time being, remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
“Australian officials in Bangladesh continue to be advised to exercise particular caution, including in public places, locations frequented by foreigners, and during gatherings. Officials have also been advised to travel only by vehicle. We recommend that Australians adopt similar security measures. The level of advice has not changed. You should exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh.”
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation expressed its horror at the “hideous” attack.
“UNWTO strongly condemns the hideous attack perpetrated yesterday in a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh,” UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said.
“On behalf of the international tourism community, UNWTO conveys its heartfelt sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.
“It was with great sorrow that we learned about this tragic news. We express our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the victims at this difficult moment.
“This is not an attack on Bangladesh but is once again an attack on our way of life, an attack on freedom.”
Written by Peter Needham