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‘Operation Thunderbolt’ ended Dhaka café siege: All ISIS terrorists were Bangladeshi citizens

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All the attackers in the deadly assault on a cafe in Dhaka were Bangladeshi citizens, and five of them were militants that police had tried to arrest previously.’Operation Thunderbolt’ unfolded to end Dhaka café siege

There were around 20-22 guests, including foreigners, at the popular Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Gulshan area when a group of gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” raided the cafe at 8.45 p.m.

Police moved in soon. But they pulled back after two officers – Assistant Commissioner Rabiul Islam of the Detective Branch, and Banani police Officer-in-Charge Salahuddin – were killed in the first exchange of fire.

After that, the law enforcement agencies sealed off the area.

After waiting through the night, following directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, armed forces joined the Rapid Action Battalion and police in the morning to launch the assault, codenamed ‘Operation Thunderbolt’, along with the other security agencies.

Around 7.40 a.m., security forces stormed the café in the Gulshan diplomatic zone and several hostages were freed minutes after the offensive began, a witness told bdnews24.com.

Heavy firing and explosions continued for at least an hour after the operation had begun to free the hostages.

A witness who saw the assault from an adjacent building said armymen in two armoured personnel carriers (APCs) tore down the wall of the café and the commandos entered the cafe through the breach.

More than 1,000 rounds were fired and nearly 1,000 explosions were reported in the 30 minutes of the raid.

A resident at a building, just 50 yards from the scene, reported spotting snipers on the roof of another building, firing from their guns.

At a media call later in the afternoon, Bangladesh Army’s Brig Gen Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said that ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ ended around 8.30 a.m.

He said they had found 20 bodies of foreign nationals, but did not disclose their identities. He said all of them were killed late Friday night with sharp weapons.

Brigadier Chowdhury, director of military operations in the Bangladesh Army, said that 13 people, including a Japanese and two Sri Lankans, were rescued from the restaurant.

The commandos took less than 15 minutes to complete the operation. Within 12 to 13 minutes our men were able to take out the terrorists and took total control, he said.

Chowdhury said that there were seven attackers, one of whom was captured alive, and the rest killed during the assault.

Fire-fighters also rushed to the spot with extinguishers and hosepipes, though no fire could be spotted.

A medical team was also seen rushing to the scene with stretchers.

After a while, a loud bang rocked the area, but the security personnel in the café were indifferent to it, suggesting these were controlled explosions of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) recovered from the scene.

Around the same time, members of different forces who had taken position in various buildings in the area before and during the raid came out and were seen embracing each other.

Blood was seen in front of the gate of the café’s main building when security officials were leaving it. A police official was shot at that spot Friday night.

Around 9.40 a.m., another loud bang was heard as the bomb disposal unit continued to explode the seized bombs in a controlled environment.

After the operation ended, several youths, who appeared to be handcuffed, were seen lying in the garage of a high-rise building beside the café. But they could not be identified.

Since 8.15 a.m., hostages, including women and children, were seen rushing out of the eatery one after another. They were taken to hospitals in ambulances.

After the operation, IGP A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque said that 18 people were rescued alive. But he left without answering how many died.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said later in the morning that 13 hostages had been rescued alive.

She added that one of the seven gunmen was captured alive and the rest were killed during the operation.

Calling the incident a ‘militant attack’, Hasina said, “We have rescued 13 people alive, but some have been killed. Some of the injured have been admitted to CMH (Combined Military Hospital).

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Japanese PM Shinzo Abe wins 3rd consecutive term as ruling party president

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Tokyo, Sep 20: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won the ruling Liberal Democratic Partys (LDP) leadership election on Thursday, securing a historic third term that will effectively extend his time in power by another three years.

Abe comfortably beat his only contender, former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba, by securing 553 out of a total 807 votes, reports The Japan Times.

He won 329 out of the 402 valid ballots cast by LDP MPs and 224 out of the remaining 405 votes allocated to party branches in each prefecture based on the number of members age 18 or older who have paid party fees.

His extended term in office signals the possibility that Abe, who has already been at the helm of the world’s third-largest economy for nearly six years in his second stint as Prime Minister, may become the longest-serving premier in Japanese history.

With his renewed leadership, Abe is likely to reshuffle his Cabinet in the coming weeks, reportedly as soon as early October.

Abe has credited himself with “restoring a decent economy” under his Abenomics policy and taking the Japan-US alliance to a stronger level.

He also repeated that it’s the “responsibility of the LDP” to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to formalise the ambiguous status of the Self-Defense Forces – the nation’s de facto military – which he said “protects the peace and independence of Japan”.

IANS

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Donald Trump visits areas affected by Florence, promises residents aid

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Washington, Sep 20: President Donald Trump on Wednesday visited the two states most heavily affected by Hurricane Florence and promised that “a lot of money” will be coming from Washington and significant resources will be invested in reconstruction in the region, although he also sparked controversy by expressing interest in an area where he owns a golf course.

Trump travelled to North and South Carolina, which were deluged last week by a storm that killed at least 36 people in the region, forced the evacuation of thousands and caused economic damage valued at up to $60 billion, according to preliminary estimates, Efe reported.

“To the families who have lost loved ones, America grieves with you, and our hearts break for you. God bless you,” the president said in a statement.

“We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We’re with you all way. And to all those impacted by this terrible storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help. And you will recover,” he added.

The president, who last year visited Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico after the passage of several hurricanes, repeated several activities that he had undertaken there, distributing hot dogs and other food to people forced from their homes and chatting with some of those affected.

During one stop in the coastal town of New Bern, North Carolina, where heavy flooding damaged more than 4,300 homes, Trump was surprised to see a yacht that had been washed against the back porch of a home.

“Is this your boat?” the president asked the homeowner, and when the owner said no, Trump reportedly smiled and replied, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Although the president avoided mistakes such as he made last year in Puerto Rico, where he downplayed the tragedy and said that Hurricane Maria had not been a “real catastrophe,” he did spark some criticism by taking advantage of his trip to visit Navy installations in North Carolina to ask about the condition of Lake Norman.

“I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area,” said Trump, avoiding mentioning that one of his golf courses, Trump National Golf Club, is located on the shore of Lake Norman, near Charlotte.

Trump also had a sober warning for South Carolina, whose authorities still fear significant additional damage due to flooding caused by Florence.

The president said at the emergency centre in the town of Conway that the help that local residents had seen is “nothing” compared to what will be arriving soon.

South Carolina’s Republican governor, Henry McMaster, said that “the worst is yet to come,” and predicted that the floodwaters could reach some five feet in height, adding that the storm and its aftermath could be the worst disaster ever to hit South Carolina.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, about 10,000 people are still being housed in shelters and “thousands” of people have not had the power restored in their homes, the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, said in his meeting with Trump.

Of the 36 people confirmed dead in the storm by local authorities, 27 died in North Carolina, eight in South Carolina and one in Virginia.

Crops of cotton and peanuts in those states have also suffered and 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs drowned on North Carolina farms, according to official calculations.

IANS

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Avenfield case: Pakistan court orders release of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam

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Islamabad, Sep 19: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday suspended the jail terms of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield case.

Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb gave the ruling on petitions filed by the three challenging the July verdict against them, Geo News reported.

Justice Minallah quashed the sentences handed to them by Accountability Court judge Mohammad Bashir.

Sharif, Maryam and Safdar had been awarded imprisonment of 11 years, eight years and one year respectively for owning London properties disproportionate to their sources of income.

Delivering the judgement, the judges also asked the three to submit bail bonds worth Rs 0.5 million each.

WeForNews 

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