A security personnel reacts near the Holey Artisan restaurant after gunmen attacked the upscale cafe, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammd Ponir Hossain
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Islamist militants killed 20 people, including at least nine Italians and seven Japanese, inside an upmarket restaurant in Bangladesh's capital, before security forces stormed the building and ended a 12-hour standoff on Saturday.It marks a major escalation in a campaign by militants over the past 18 months that had targeted mostly individuals advocating a secular or liberal lifestyle in majority-Muslim Bangladesh with 160 million people.Bangladesh authorities are yet to say where all the people killed by the militants came from.ISIS, which has claimed a series of machete attacks on minority groups in Bangladesh over the past year, posted photos of bodies and blood smeared across floors that it said were dead foreigners killed in the assault.Police said the assailants exchanged sporadic gunfire with police outside for several hours after the gunmen attacked the restaurant around 9 p.m. on Friday.Bangladesh has seen a spate of murders in recent months claimed by ISIS and al Qaeda on liberals, gays, foreigners and religious minorities.ISIS had claimed more attacks in Bangladesh than in Pakistan or Afghanistan, he said.
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