BANGLADESH HOSTAGE SITUATION, vrpca, policija.jpg
Members of the Rapid Action Batallion (RAB) behind tape to resrict media and others in the streets close to the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka,
Photograph: EPA/STRINGER

Twenty hostages died during a siege in the Bangladeshi capital where troops stormed a restaurant and killed six terrorists holding hostages, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The spokesman, Brigadier Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhry of Bangladesh Army, didn't mention the nationalities of the victims.

The victims were chopped to death by sharp weapons inside the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in the Gulshan diplomatic district of Dhaka on Friday, Chowdhury told reporters six hours after the hostage crisis ended.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said earlier that troops rescued 13 hostages and captured one of the terrorists.

Earlier reports said there were nearly two dozen hostages held by about eight to 10 attackers that took the cafe Friday night.

A search operation was launched as the militants were killed after 12 to 13 minutes of commando operations, Chowdhury said. The forces found a number of firearms - including pistols, AK-22 rifles and sharp weapons - at the scene.

Two of the 13 rescued alive are Sri Lankan nationals and one is Japanese, the army officer said, adding that more information would be available on the deceased after investigations.

The gunmen entered the restaurant at about 8:45 pm Friday [1445 GMT] as customers were eating. A tense standoff carried into early morning, after two police officers were killed in an initial exchange of gunfire.

Foreign hostages included several Italians and one or more Japanese citizens, diplomats said.

The Islamic State terrorist organization reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Other reports said American officials suspected al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, which the US declared a terrorist group the day before.

Thousands of alleged radical militants had been arrested in Bangladesh in recent weeks, local media reported.

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