An American was one of the victims in the 10-hour hostage crisis at a Bangladesh café that left 22 dead.
The State Department confirmed Saturday that a U.S. citizen was among those “senselessly murdered” when Islamic terrorists stormed the restaurant in the diplomatic quater of the Bangladesh capital. The standoff ended Saturday morning when police stormed the restaurant, killed six attackers and rescued 13 hostages.
Three of the hostage victims attended U.S. colleges. Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain were students at Emory University in Georgia; and Tarushi Jain, a 19-year-old Indian national, was reportedly a student the University of California at Berkeley.
Emory President James Wagner said in a message Saturday on the university’s website that Kabir was from Miami and was in Dhaka visiting family and friends. He said Hossain just graduated and was enrolled in Emory’s business school for the fall.
Emory University @EmoryUniversity
Our thoughts and prayers go out on behalf of Faraaz and Abinta, their friends and family for strength and peace at this unspeakably sad time
8:36 PM - 2 Jul 2016 · Atlanta, GA, United States
"The Emory community mourns this tragic and senseless loss of two members of our university family," Wagner said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out on behalf of Faraaz and Abinta and their families and friends for strength and peace at this unspeakably sad time."
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister vowed at a press conference Saturday to fight terrorism “at all costs” following the seige at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the attack while pledging to stand up and fight the terror threats that have mushroomed in the country, Reuters reported.
“We are committed and determined to uphold or freedom,” Hasina said, adding that Bangladesh will fight the terror threat “at all costs.”
Hasina also declared the country would observe two days of mourning.
At least seven Islamic terrorists attacked the upscale restaurant Friday.
The seige ended when Bangladeshi commandoes, supported by armored vehicles, stormed the cafe, killing six attackers and capturing a seventh, while freeing 13 hostages. Two police officers were killed in an earlier gun battle with the militants.
The Islamic terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online. The ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency posted photos purportedly showing the bodies of hostages, though their authenticity could not be immediately confirmed.
At a news conference, Army Brigadier General Naim Asraf Chowdhury said most of the victims "were killed mercilessly" with sharp weapons on Friday night.
Earlier, a police official told AP that that five bodies were seen lying in pools of blood at the restaurant. It was not immediately clear whether they were the remains of militants or hostages.
A Bangladeshi army spokesman said all the victims were foreigners.
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the bodies of nine Italians have been identified among the dead.
A Japanese government spokesman said that seven Japanese were among those killed in the siege.
The White House issued a statement Saturday condemning the attack.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those killed, and we hope for a speedy recovery for those wounded," the statement said. "This is a despicable act of terrorism, and the United States stands with Bangladesh and the international community in our resolve to confront terrorism wherever it occurs."
A Bangladeshi police official said two Sri Lankans were rescued Saturday, while local media reported that an Argentine and two Bangladeshis escaped prior to the raid.
Kitchen staffer Sumon Reza, who escaped via the restaurant's roof, said the attackers chanted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) as they assaulted around 9:20 p.m. Friday (11:20 a.m. ET), initially opening fire with blanks.
Rezaul Karim, the father of a Bangladeshi businessman who was rescued along with his family, said the attackers did not harm any hostage who could recite verses from the Islamic holy book, Koran.
Karim said his son, Hasnat, had gone to the restaurant along with his wife and two children to celebrate the birthday of his elder daughter when the attack happened. "He told me, `Please save us, please!' And he hung up," he said.
Karim said his son told him that the attackers "did not hit people who could recite verses from the Koran. The others were tortured," he said.
"The gunmen asked everyone inside to recite from the Koran. Those who recited were spared. The gunmen even gave them meals last night," Karim said.
He said detectives were questioning his son and his family as part of the investigation.
Ten of 26 people who were wounded when the militants opened fire were in critical condition, and six were on life support, according to hospital staff. The injuries ranged from broken bones to gunshot wounds. Only one civilian was among the wounded.
The attack marks an escalation in the growing drumbeat of militant violence to hit the traditionally moderate Muslim-majority nation in the past three years, but with increasing frequency in recent months. Most attacks have been by machete-wielding men singling out individual activists, foreigners and religious minorities.
The spree of recent attacks in Bangladesh have raised fears that religious extremists are gaining a foothold in the country, despite its traditions of secularism and tolerance.
About two dozen atheist writers, publishers, members of religious minorities, social activists and foreign aid workers have been slain since 2013. On Friday, a Hindu temple worker was hacked to death by at least three assailants in southwest Bangladesh. ISIS and and Al Qaeda affiliates have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks.
Hasina's government has cracked down on domestic radical Islamists. It has accused local terrorists and opposition political parties -- especially the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami -- of orchestrating the violence in order to destabilize the nation, which both parties deny.