Posts Tagged ‘Amaq’

Bus Bomb Kills 8 in Syria’s Homs

December 5, 2017
BY REUTERS
 DECEMBER 5, 2017 13:59

A string of bombings have struck cities under government control in Syria this year, including the capital Damascus.

People and security personnel look on at the area of a blast in Homs, Syria December 5, 2017

People and security personnel look on at the area of a blast in Homs, Syria December 5, 2017. (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

BEIRUT – A bomb blast killed eight people and injured 16 others on a bus in Syria’s Homs on Tuesday, state media said, citing the city’s health authority.

Islamic State claimed the attack, saying the blast killed 11 members of the Syrian army, its official news agency AMAQ said.

Many of the passengers were university students, Homs Governor Talal Barazi told state-run Ikhbariya TV. The blast in the government-held city hit the Akrama district, near al-Baath university.

Footage showed people crowding around the burned shell of a vehicle in the middle of a street. State television said “a bomb that terrorists planted in a passenger bus exploded.” Islamic State militants had claimed responsibility for a similar attack in Homs in May, when a car bomb killed four people and injured 32 others.

A string of bombings have struck cities under government control in Syria this year, including the capital Damascus. The Tahrir al-Sham alliance — led by fighters formerly linked to al-Qaeda — has also claimed some of the deadly attacks.

“Security agencies are constantly chasing sleeper cells,” the Homs police chief said on Ikhbariya. “Today, it could be a sleeper cell or it could be an infiltration.” Barazi, the governor, said the state’s enemies were trying to target stability as “the stage of victory” drew near.

The city of Homs went back under full government control in May, for the first time since the onset of Syria’s conflict more than six years ago. Hundreds of Syrian rebels and civilians were evacuated from the city’s last opposition district, al-Waer, which the army and allied forces had besieged.

With the help of Russian jets and Iran-backed militias, the Damascus government has pushed back rebel factions in western Syria, shoring up its rule over the main urban centers. The army and allied forces then marched eastwards against Islamic State militants this year.

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Islamic State says Syria Again Using Poison Gas — Latest on Fighting in Syria

December 12, 2016

Claims That Syria Attacking With Poison Gas

BEIRUT — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

3 p.m.

A news agency linked to the Islamic State group and a Syrian activist say airstrikes on an IS-held central region killed at least 20 people.

The Aamaq news agency says poison gas was used in the attack on the eastern side of the central province of Hama, killing 20 while 200 others suffered breathing problems.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 34 people, including 11 children and eight women, were killed in the attack.

Monday’s airstrikes on the Okeirbat region came a day after IS militants re-occupied Palmyra, taking the ancient central city from government troops.

In August, a report by an international team concluded that both the Syrian government and IS carried out chemical attacks in Syria during 2014 and 2015.

Syria — Pro-Assad regime forces hold Syrian flags bearing the portrait of Assad as they patrol in Aleppo. Photograph by George Ourfalian, AFP, Getty Images

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1:50 p.m.

A Syrian rebel spokesman says opposition fighters are retreating in eastern Aleppo under intense government fire that is putting thousands of civilians at risk.

Bassam Haj Mustafa, a senior member of the Nour el-Din el-Zinki group who is in contact with fighters inside the city, said Monday that the collapse of the rebel enclave is “terrifying.”

He says the fighters are doing “their best to defend what is left.”

The Syrian military says it has retaken 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, which the rebels seized in 2012. The opposition-run Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels still hold around 7 percent of eastern Aleppo.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to government-held western Aleppo since the offensive began earlier this month, but thousands remain trapped in the rebel stronghold.

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1:30 p.m.

Turkish media says the air force is pounding Islamic State targets in northern Syria and has dropped leaflets calling on residents to leave a militant stronghold there.

The private Dogan news agency said Monday the armed forces had dropped leaflets on al-Bab, the next target of a campaign by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces.

The leaflets urge civilians to flee to secure areas, saying “God willing, victory is near.” They urge residents to “not let the Daesh terror, which serves the devil, exploit you,” referring to IS by an Arabic acronym.

Images of the Arabic and Turkish language pamphlets were also circulated on social media. There was no comment from the army.

The state-run Anadolu Agency says the military has hit more than 138 IS-related targets in northern Syria, including 29 in al-Bab and its vicinity.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces crossed into northern Syria earlier this year to drive IS and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces out of a strategic area along the border.

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1:15 p.m.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says the unwillingness of the United States to work with Moscow in Syria contributed to the loss of the ancient city of Palmyra to the Islamic State group.

Dmitry Peskov told journalists Monday that “the U.S. does not want to cooperate,” adding that “cooperation would have probably allowed us to more effectively avoid such attacks from terrorists.”

Syrian troops aided by Russian airstrikes drove IS from Palmyra in March, but the militants stormed back into the city over the weekend, forcing the army to retreat despite a wave of Russian airstrikes.

The Syrian government and Russia had been focused on Aleppo, where they are close to defeating rebels that have held the eastern half of the northern city for four years.

Peskov said many of the IS fighters involved in the Palmyra assault had recently left the Iraqi city of Mosul, where U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have been waging a nearly two-month-old offensive against the militants.

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12:30 p.m.

Syria’s military says it has gained control of 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, leaving only a tiny enclave packed with rebels and civilians.

The military statement Monday said pro-government forces have seized control of al-Fardous, one of the largest neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, which has been held by the rebels since 2012.

Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-run monitoring group, said the fighting is ongoing in the district.

Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes and militias from across the region launched a large-scale offensive on eastern Aleppo earlier this month and are on the verge of driving the rebels from the city. Doing so would hand President Bashar Assad his greatest victory yet in the 5 ½-year civil war.

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10 a.m.

Syria’s state media and an opposition monitoring group say that government troops and allied militias have seized a wide strip on the southern edge of Aleppo from rebels, closing in on tens of thousands of civilians squeezed into the center of the city.

State TV says the Syrian forces fully secured Sheikh Saeed neighborhood — an area interspersed with agricultural fields along the southern stretch of the rebel enclave — on Monday, after days of intense clashes.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights estimates the fall of Sheikh Saeed leaves rebels enclosed in a small area in central Aleppo that’s only 10 percent of what rebels used to control.

Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be still trapped in that area, accessible only through government-monitored crossing points.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) attend a bilateral meeting in Rome, Italy December 2, 2016. Photo by Gregorio Borgia – Reuters

Related:

Peace and Freedom comment: Mr. Kerry does not seem to understand the nature of Mr. Assad and Mr. Putin.
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From The Guardian:
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Forces loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria have drawn closer to their goal of reclaiming all of the city of Aleppo, seizing more territory in a relentless advance that has displaced thousands of civilians.

Syrian soldiers and Iranian-backed militias now hold 90% of east Aleppo after wresting control of two more neighbourhoods that were once part of the rebel-held and besieged east of the city, as it emerged that opposition fighters were contemplating a deal to evacuate Aleppo.

The advance was preceded by some of the most intense bombardment of the war, described as a kind of “doomsday” by one resident, Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, with non-stop artillery shelling through the night and Monday morning and numerous airstrikes.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/12/syria-assad-forces-close-to-capturing-east-aleppo

Syrian army in ‘final stages’ of Aleppo offensive

December 12, 2016

Smoke and flames rise after air strikes on rebel-controlled besieged area of Aleppo, as seen from a government-held side, in Syria December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
By Laila Bassam and Lisa Barrington | ALEPPO, SYRIA/BEIRUT

The Syrian army and its allies are in the “final stages” of recapturing Aleppo after a sudden advance that has pushed rebels to the brink of collapse in a shrinking enclave, a Syrian general said on Monday.

A Reuters journalist in the government-held zone said the bombardment of rebel areas had continued non-stop overnight, and a civilian trapped there described the situation as resembling Doomsday.

“The battle in eastern Aleppo should end quickly. They (rebels) don’t have much time. They either have to surrender or die,” Lieutenant General Zaid al-Saleh, head of the government’s Aleppo security committee, told reporters in the recaptured Sheikh Saeed district of the city.

Pro-government forces were clashing with insurgents in the Fardous district, which was at the heart of the besieged pocket only days ago, after taking Sheikh Saeed in the south and Saliheen in the east, a rebel official said.

“The situation is extremely difficult today,” said Zakaria Malahifji of the Fastaqim rebel group fighting in Aleppo.

The rebels’ sudden retreat represented a “big collapse in terrorist morale”, a Syrian military source said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, is now close to taking back full control of Aleppo, which was Syria’s most populous city before the war and would be his greatest prize so far after nearly six years of conflict.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that since the start of the Aleppo battle, more than 2,200 rebels had surrendered and 100,000 civilians had left areas of the city that were controlled by militants.

“People run from one shelling to another to escape death and just to save their souls … It’s doomsday in Aleppo, yes doomsday in Aleppo,” said Abu Amer Iqab, a former government employee in the Sukkari district in the heart of the rebel enclave.

REBELS

While Aleppo’s fall would deal a stunning blow to rebels trying to remove Assad from power, he would still be far from restoring control across Syria. Swathes of the country remain in rebel hands, and on Sunday Islamic State retook Palmyra.

Tens of thousands of civilians remain in rebel-held areas, hemmed in by ever-changing front lines, pounded by air strikes and shelling, and without basic supplies, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group.

Rebel groups in Aleppo received a U.S.-Russian proposal on Sunday for a withdrawal of fighters and civilians from the city’s opposition areas, but Moscow said no agreement had been reached yet in talks in Geneva to end the crisis peacefully.

The rebel official blamed Russia for the lack of progress in talks, saying it had no incentive to compromise while its ally Assad was gaining ground. “The Russians are being evasive. They are looking at the military situation. Now they are advancing,” he said.

FIGHTING

The Observatory said the Sheikh Saeed district had fallen to the army in fighting on Sunday night and early on Monday and troops were firing on the districts of Karam al-Daadaa and Fardous.

An advance into those districts would take the army into the heart of the area held by rebels as recently as Saturday, pushing them towards a last bastion of control on the west bank of Aleppo’s river and the area southwest of the citadel.

A member of Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad carries his weapon as he walks past damaged buildings in a government held area of Aleppo, Syria December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The Syrian army is backed by Russian war planes and Shi’ite militias supported by Iran. The mostly Sunni rebels include groups backed by the United States, Turkey and Gulf monarchies as well as hardline jihadists who are not supported by the West.

A correspondent for Syria’s official SANA news agency said the army had taken control of Sheikh Saeed, and more than 3,500 people had left at dawn.

A Syrian official told Reuters: “We managed to take full control of the Sheikh Saeed district. This area is very important because it facilitates access to al-Amariya and allows us to secure a greater part of the Aleppo-Ramousah road.” The road is the main entry point to the city from the south.

The loss of Palmyra, an ancient desert city whose recapture from Islamic State in March was heralded by Damascus and Moscow as vindicating Russia’s entry into the war, is an embarrassing setback to Assad.

The Observatory reported that the jihadist group carried out eight executions of Syrian soldiers and allied militiamen in Palmyra on Monday while warplanes bombarded their positions around the city.

Another four people, including two children, were shot dead while the jihadists cleared the city of pro-government forces, it said.

CIVILIANS

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Monday that 728 rebels had laid down their weapons over the previous 24 hours and relocated to western Aleppo. It said 13,346 civilians left rebel-controlled districts of Aleppo over the same period.

The Observatory said that four weeks into the army offensive at least 415 civilians, including 47 children, had been killed in rebel-held parts of the city.

Hundreds had been injured by Russian and Syrian air strikes and shelling by government forces and its allies on the besieged eastern part of the city.

The Observatory said 364 rebel fighters had been killed in the eastern sector. It said rebel shelling of government-held west Aleppo had killed 130 civilians, including 40 children. Dozens had been injured.

The army on Sunday took foreign journalists to witness an enlistment ceremony for 220 men, including former rebels and others from opposition-held areas captured by the government.

The fate of young men leaving the shrinking rebel pocket in Aleppo has been a subject of argument between the two sides.

Opposition supporters have accused the government of mass arrests and extrajudicial killings, which Damascus has denied. The government accuses rebels of forcing people to fight for them and preventing them leaving, which the insurgents deny.

The United Nations said last week it was concerned about reports that hundreds of young men had been detained upon leaving the rebel-held enclave.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam in Aleppo, Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry in Beirut and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Larry King and Giles Elgood)

Related:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) attend a bilateral meeting in Rome, Italy December 2, 2016. Photo by Gregorio Borgia – Reuters

Related:

Peace and Freedom comment: Mr. Kerry does not seem to understand the nature of Mr. Assad and Mr. Putin.
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Provincial Governor: Islamic State Retakes Ancient City of Palmyra

December 11, 2016

Embarrassing setback for the thousands of Syrian government troops and Russian airpower

Syrian army soldiers drove through the historic city of Palmyra in April.
Syrian army soldiers drove through the historic city of Palmyra in April. PHOTO: REUTERS

Updated Dec. 11, 2016 11:45 a.m. ET

BEIRUT—Islamic State fighters retook the ancient city of Palmyra Sunday, an embarrassing setback for the thousands of Syrian government troops and Russian airpower defending the area after retaking it from the extremists only months before.

Islamic State’s media arm, Amaq, said its fighters had taken Palmyra’s city center days after launching their offensive on Thursday, the news confirmed by the governor of Homs province, where Palmyra is located.

The Syrian government had retaken Palmyra from Islamic State in March with the help of the Russian military and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the most important victory ever secured against Islamic State by Damascus and its allies.

The setback to the Syrian military comes as it is nearing victory over other rebel forces in Aleppo city after years of battle, raising questions about how President Bashar al-Assad’s government will be able to stitch the divided country together and administer it after nearly six years of conflict.

With its own forces severely weakened, Damascus has heavily relied on foreign support to wage multiple offensives and win back territory from both more moderate opposition and extremist groups, making major progress against rebels across the country. But those allies have also tired of fighting and seen their own forces depleted.

Syrian military forces had evacuated Palmyra by the afternoon, repositioning themselves on its outskirts and preparing for a counter attack, Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi said Sunday night.

Russian warplanes continued to pound Islamic State fighters in the city, he added, and the terror group was sending reinforcements from its other redoubts in Syria.

“This morning, most civilians were evacuated [from the city],” Mr. Barazi said, though only a fraction of Palmyra’s residents had returned after the Syrian military and allies recaptured it in March.

The fall of Palmyra is particularly glaring for Russia, which counted the city as its first major victory over Islamic State when it helped capture it for Mr. Assad nine months ago.

Officials in Damascus have credited Moscow with turning the tide of the war in favor of Mr. Assad, whose forces had lost control over most of the country before Russia, a longtime financial backer, joined the conflict in September 2015.

“After regrouping, 4,000 ISIS militants made a concerted attempt to capture Palmyra,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement Sunday evening. “Despite heavy losses in manpower and technology, the terrorists are trying their hardest to gain a foothold in the city.”

Just hours before Palmyra fell to Islamic State on Sunday morning, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense had proclaimed victory. It claimed Russian airstrikes had killed 300 militants, “repelling all terrorist attacks on Palmyra.”

Russia intervened in the war under the auspices of defeating terrorist groups that proliferated across Syria. But Western officials have accused Moscow of instead using its air power primarily to attack more moderate U.S.-backed rebels seeking to overthrow Mr. Assad.

Syria and Russia frequently point to their victory over Islamic State in Palmyra to counter accusations that they were leaving the extremist group unchecked.

In a display of triumph, the Russian government in May sent an orchestra to hold a concert among the city’s famous Roman ruins.

Palmyra lies at a strategic crossroads for Syrian troops to connect their forces in northern and eastern Syria to the capital Damascus. The more than 2,000-year-old city contains a number of the Middle East’s most venerated ancient sites.

Islamic State had controlled Palmyra for nearly a year before it relinquished control in March, blowing up parts of the city’s historic landscape before being uprooted.

The success of Islamic State’s weekend offensive demonstrated its ability to launch quick and devastating counterattacks even while it loses territory across its self-declared caliphate and with operations under way to drive it from its remaining Iraqi stronghold Mosul and de facto capital, the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

The extremists also suffered major losses across both countries in the past year at the hands of U.S.-backed Iraqi army and Syrian Kurdish forces.

Islamic State may have undertaken the offensive to divert media attention away from its losses elsewhere, while also raiding Syrian government weapons depots around the city to replenish its depleted stocks.

As the militants advanced on government-held territory surrounding the city, the Syrian army began blowing up its own weapons depots to prevent them from being seized, then withdrew to safety, according to Amaq.

Islamic State weapons supplies have over the past two years been hammered by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that have hampered its ability to move military hardware across front lines in Iraq and Syria. The Palmyra offensive appeared designed to alleviate that pressure and resupply its forces.

Multiple offensives this year against the extremists have severed their access to the Turkish border, a critical supply line and access point for foreign fighters, denying them the ability to absorb new recruits. Some 20,000 foreign fighters from the Mideast and West filled Islamic State’s ranks at the height of its power, most entering through the Turkish border, according to U.S. officials.

Islamic State claimed in a statement Saturday that its fighters had killed up to 260 Syrian troops and captured 14 tanks, 16 cannons, a rocket launcher and two missile platforms among other spoils. The assertions couldn’t be independently confirmed.

Shortly after launching their offensive Thursday, the group’s fighters also seized several large oil and gas fields near Palmyra, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based opposition monitoring group. Mr. Barazi, the Homs governor, confirmed the loss of the fields but said the extremists wouldn’t be able to siphon off any reserves.

Write to Maria Abi-Habib at maria.habib@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/syrian-army-with-russia-beats-back-islamic-state-advance-on-palmyra-1481451208

Bangladesh Attack Marks Tactical Shift by Radical Islamic State Terrorists — “They Are Getting Harder To Stop” — ”Widening War”

July 3, 2016

Assault at upscale cafe marks significant escalation by extremist group’s followers in South Asia

Police have stormed a restaurant after being locked in a shoot-out with gunmen at a restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, that is popular with foreigners

Police in Bangladeh tend to one of their wouned outside a restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, that is popular with foreigners

DHAKA, Bangladesh—When assailants armed with guns and explosives stormed an upscale cafe in the Bangladeshi capital Friday, shouting “Allahu akbar,” it marked a sharp escalation by extremist followers of Islamic State in South Asia, a region where the terror group had previously gained little traction.

By the time security forces retook the restaurant after an assault backed by armored vehicles early Saturday, 20 civilians, two police officers and six militants had been killed. Brig. Gen. Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury, the army’s director of military operations, said 13 people being held hostage were freed.

Among the dead were two students from Emory University, which is based in Atlanta. Abinta Kabir, a U.S. citizen who was an undergraduate student at the school’s Oxford College campus in Georgia, was killed, along with another student, Faraaz Hossain, spokesmen for their families said Saturday. Mr. Hossain’s nationality hasn’t been confirmed.

Tarushi Jain, an 18-year-old Indian national who attended the University of California-Berkeley, also perished in the attack, the Associated Press reported.

Italy’s Foreign Ministry said nine Italians were among those killed. India said one Indian had died. In Japan, which said seven of its citizens were killed in the attack, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the attack “cruel and inhumane.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Its news service, Amaq, posted grisly photos that it said were taken during the siege, appearing to show dead bodies, blood-smeared walls and overturned chairs.

Those pictures were the latest sign that South Asian militants are communicating with Islamic State fighters in the group’s strongholds in Syria and Iraq and that the organization’s calls for jihad have found at least some sympathizers in a part of the Muslim world where radicalization has been relatively uncommon.

Earlier this week, Indian authorities detained 11 men they said had been receiving instructions from an ISIS handler abroad. India’s National Investigation Agency said they were planning to attack Hindu religious sites with improvised explosive devices.

Animesh Roul, executive director of the New Delhi-based Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict, said Bangladesh’s Islamist groups now “appear to be in regular contact” with Islamic State, but he said there was still no evidence the terrorist group was providing “direct, material support” to militants in South Asia.

Islamic State, behind recent attacks in Europe and elsewhere, has sought to ramp up recruiting in South Asia, reaching out to prospective recruits online.

A video purportedly released by Islamic State in May showed fighters of the extremist group saying they would avenge what they called “atrocities” against Muslims in India, which has one of the world’s largest Islamic populations. Gun-wielding men urged Indian Muslims to join ISIS and mocked those who live alongside Hindus.

In neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, police have arrested alleged Islamic State recruiters. A video on a website linked to one of them showed masked men posing with handguns against a backdrop of the black flag of Islamic State.

“Remove atheists and apostates from the face of the earth,” one of the men said in Bangla.

Bangladesh’s government has denied that Islamic State or al Qaeda have footholds in the country and blamed violence on political opponents and an “international conspiracy” to destabilize the country. The government hasn’t said who it believes was responsible for Friday’s assault.

In a televised speech, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her administration had successfully handled what was an unprecedented terrorist attack in Dhaka. “Terrorists have no religion,” she said. “Our security forces conducted a successful operation and killed almost all of the terrorists. None escaped.”

The last time Bangladesh faced a large-scale terrorist attack was in 2005, when a banned militant group called Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh set off a series of bombs in all but one of Bangladesh’s 64 districts in the space of an hour, killing more than 30 people.

The government at the time captured and hanged JMB leaders. But the organization has regrouped recently and claimed responsibility for dozens of assassinations of religious minorities, secular thinkers and foreigners over the past year.

Last year, Islamic State’s propaganda magazine, Dabiq, endorsed the JMB and said it was the only jihadist group in Bangladesh “with the correct beliefs.” The issue devoted an entire chapter on “the revival of Jihad in Bengal.”

In an effort to suppress domestic jihadist groups, police last month arrested more than 11,000 people. Critics said the mass arrests would do little to pressure extremist groups and that security forces had rounded up petty criminals and many innocent people.

Bangladesh security personnel stood on top of armored vehicles on Saturday after militants took hostages at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka.
Bangladesh security personnel stood on top of armored vehicles on Saturday after militants took hostages at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Dhaka. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The government has denied innocent people were arrested and pointed to several successes, including the arrest of an Islamist suspected of attacking and injuring a publisher in Dhaka last year.

Still the crackdown failed to prevent Friday’s attackers from answering an Islamic State call for violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends Tuesday. They barged into the Holey Artisan Café, located in an affluent neighborhood near several embassies.

Sumon Reza, a manager at the cafe said he was at work on the second floor just after 9 p.m. local time when two men with rifles burst into the ground floor, spraying the room with gunfire. The two gunmen were quickly joined by five others, one of whom was carrying a sword.

As the gunmen moved through the building, Mr. Reza said he jumped from the roof. “Terrorism is something that happens in far-off places,” he said. “This was an attack in our area, in our place of work.”

Two senior police officers who attempted to negotiate with them died when the militants detonated an explosive device, police said.

A woman, who declined to be named, said her son, daughter-in-law and their two young children had come out of the restaurant shortly before police and soldiers moved in. “They let all the locals go before the police went in,” she said.

Bangladesh has been without an effective opposition in Parliament since opposition groups boycotted elections in 2014, accusing Ms. Hasina of trying to rig them, something she denied. Some experts have warned that a political vacuum in the South Asian country could be aiding the rise of extremism by allowing jihadist groups to recruit from among disgruntled opposition supporters.

The government has so far rejected calls by the opposition to start a national dialogue against militancy, saying it has the situation under control.

Corrections & Amplifications:
Two students from a U.S. university were among those killed in a terrorist assault on a Bangladeshi cafe. An earlier version of this story, and its headline, identified both students as Americans, though family have only confirmed one was a U.S. citizen. Also, Brig. Gen. Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury is the Bangladeshi army’s director of military operations. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated his name. (July 2, 2016)

Write to Syed Zain Al-Mahmood at zain.al-mahmood@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/terror-attack-on-bangladesh-cafe-leaves-20-dead-1467455938

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Bangladesh Attack Is New Evidence That ISIS Has Shifted Its Focus Beyond the Mideast