Gunmen stormed a crowded restaurant popular with foreigners in the Bangladeshi capital on Friday night, apparently taking diners hostage and sparking a firefight with police in which at least one officer was killed, officials said.
The attackers entered a Spanish restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter and opened fire at around 9:20pm (1320 GMT), police said.
Mohammed Suhrawardy, a businessman who lives nearby told the Daily Star newspaper his family heard screams of “Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) followed by several loud blasts.
“Police immediately rushed to the place and fired back. An unknown number of people are still inside but we cannot confirm whether they are held hostage,” Gulshan area police officer Sayedur Rahman told AFP.
The US State Department said it appeared to be a hostage situation, and a senior Bangladeshi government official confirmed to AFP there were several people inside the restaurant.
“I heard that one Italian national who works at the restaurant and several other people were still inside the restaurant,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
Police said one officer had been killed in the firefight and another three people including two police had been seriously injured.
The head of Bangladesh’s elite security force Benazir Ahmed told reporters the attackers were still inside the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant.
“We are trying to communicate with them (gunmen). We want to resolve it peacefully,” Benazir said.
Heavily armed police and paramilitary guards cordoned off the area as the gunfight broke out.
“They were eight or nine people,” another witness told reporters.
“They were shouting Allahu Akbar as they entered the restaurant.”
The incident took place near the Nordic Club, where expatriates of Nordic nations gather, and the Qatar embassy.
Bangladesh has been reeling from a wave of murders of religious minorities and secular activists by suspected Islamist militants.
Earlier Friday a Hindu temple worker was hacked to death in western Bangladesh.
Police also shot dead two Islamist students suspected in last month’s murder of an Hindu priest and arrested a top Islamist militant who masterminded an attack on a Hindu lecturer last month.
New Zealand eruption death toll rises to 18
The death toll from New Zealand's White Island volcano eruption rose to 18 Sunday, including two people whose bodies have not been recovered, police said.
A land search early Sunday failed to find any sign of the missing pair and divers returned to the sea in the afternoon amid increasing speculation both could be in the water.
Deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said there was "every chance" the bodies had been washed into the sea from the stream where they were last seen Monday.
He added that searchers were "satisfied that the area we searched near the jetty is clear of the bodies".
Anger, relief but no joy as UN climate talks limp to an end
A marathon UN summit wrapped up Sunday with little to show, squeezing hard-earned compromises from countries over a global warming battle plan that fell well short of what science says is needed to tackle the climate crisis.
The COP25 deal "expresses the urgent need" for new carbon cutting commitments to close the gap between current emissions and the Paris treaty goal of capping temperature at below two degrees, host country Spain said in a statement.
"Today the citizens of the world are asking for us to move ahead faster and better, in financing, adaptation, mitigation," Carolina Schmidt, Chilean environment minister and President of COP25, told the closing plenary.
UK opposition chief Corbyn ‘sorry’ for election wipeout
Britain's main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn apologised Sunday for waging a disastrous campaign that handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson a mandate to take the UK out of the EU next month.
But the veteran socialist defended his far-left platform and blamed the media for helping relegate his century-old party to its worst performance since before World War II.
"I will make no bones about it. The election result on Thursday was a body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country," Corbyn wrote in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.
"I wanted to unite the country that I love but I'm sorry that we came up short and I take my responsibility for it."