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TRAVEL ADVISORY – Terrorist Attack and Hostage Situation in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Key Points.

  • 20 foreign hostages killed and 13 others released after a hostage situation in the Holey Artisan Bakery Cafe, Central Dhaka.Dhaka
  • Six of the attackers shot dead and one arrested.
  • Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack whilst other reports have linked it to the work of Al Qaeda or Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh.
  • There has been a rising ride of violence against non-Muslims over recent months in Dhaka.
  • The Holey Artisan bakery is popular with foreigners and located in the diplomatic sector.

 

Situation Summary.

On the evening of 1 July 2016 approximately 7-9 gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery Café in central Dhaka holding customers and staff hostage. The attack occurred as Dhaka residents were gathering to break their Ramadan fast. These gunmen ended up killing twenty hostages. It is believed that the bakery/café was targeted due to its popularity with foreigners. Nine Italians, seven Japanese, one US citizen and one Indian have been confirmed dead in the attack while thirteen others were freed after 12 hours when the military stormed the cafe. Six of the gunmen were killed by the military and another arrested. Two police officers were killed in initial exchanges of the fire and 30 others injured.

The attack coincides with the holy month of Ramadan and the build up to the festival of Eid. Numerous Islamic terror groups have called for more attacks during this period.

 

Intrinsic Comment.

Over the past few months and years there have been a series of attacks targeting prominent intellectuals, activists, and those not of the Islamic Faith; violence appears to be on the rise.

  • 30 April 2016 – A Hindu tailor was hacked to death outside his shop in Tangail. He had been arrested then released in 2012 for alleged derogatory comments about Islam.
  • 20 May 2016 – A homeopathic doctor was hacked to death in a village in Kushita. The assailants also wounded a ‘progressive’ university professor in the attack.
  • 28 May 2016 – 10 people were alleged to have been killed in pre-election violence as supporters of rival candidates clashed throughout the country.
  • 10 June 2016 – A 62-year-old Hind monastery worker was hacked to death by unknown assailants. The attack occurred in Pabna, north-western Bangladesh. 
  • 15 June 2016 – A Hindu teacher was attacked and critically injured outside his home by three men armed with knives.
  • 01 July 2016 – A 45-year-old Hindu priest was hacked to death in Jhinaidah district for unknown reasons

 

Dhaka – Practical Travel Advice.  In the short term see below some practical travel advice: 

  • Avoid the area of the bakery. Police investigations will now commence at the attack site and other known militant hotspots. Avoid the vicinity of this location where possible.
  • Delay travel to Dhaka. Travel risk managers are advised to monitor all travel to Dhaka and ongoing events in the coming days. Secondary attacks are not an uncommon terror tactic particularly in areas frequented by westerners.
  • Expect and plan for travel disruption. Travel disruption and increased security measures will continue in the short term. Travellers in the area should consider alternative travel arrangements where possible.
  • Maintain heightened security awareness in Dhaka. Staff in Dhaka should maintain increased vigilance. Adopt sensible security measures to minimise risk when out and about including the monitoring of local media sources and following all security force instructions.
  • Expect protests over coming days. Protests can be expected in Dhaka and across Bangladesh in line with previous attacks. These events can serve as a further target for attack. Travellers are advised to avoid protest sites and large crowds due to the fluid nature of these situations. Two days of mourning have been called due to the severity of this event.
  • Solace Global remains available to advise further and continues to issue relevant alerting and travel advisory notices.

 

General Security Advice – Mass Shootings Incidents. Complex attacks and mass shootings are increasingly common both in Bangladesh and globally. It is advisable to be informed of sensible actions which can be undertaken to improve safety. If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. If unable to do so, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Inform emergency services or someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements.

RUN HIDE TELL Guidance – The United Kingdom Government currently advises those caught up in incidents of this nature to adopt the RUN HIDE TELL guidance.  See full details at this Link.

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