UPDATE 4:19 PM EDT
NBC News is now reporting that the number of hostages is considerably closer to 40 people inside the cafe (at least one foreigner) and that no less than four security forces have been killed in the fighting after the group of gunmen stormed the restaurant about 9:20 PM local time (11:20AM ET)
While it’s being suggested by many that this was a spur of the moment attack, others believe that it was premeditated and could be backed by ISIS, which claimed responsibility for an attack that killed one and injured 13 on Shiite Muslim holiday last year.
The ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency reported that the ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the terror research firms Flashpoint Intelligence and Site Intelligence Group, though this has yet to be confirmed.
“Suspects are extremist militants from an unidentified group,” Fazle-e-Elahi said earlier. “All are heavily armed and equipped. There are seven to eight militants engaging us.”
“They are tactically sound,” the official said of the attackers. “They are using grenades and weapons in tow.”
“There’s a gate and guard, but you could walk in without any hindrance if you wanted to,” Maimuna Ahmad, who lives near Holey Artisan, told MSNBC.
According to the Chief of the Special Police Force, Benjir Ahmed, gunmen have attacked a cafe popular with ex-patriots in Dhaka’s Gulshan area of the capital of Bangladesh. It’s believed that there are roughly 20 hostages inside as well as around eight or nine gunmen who are exchanging gunfire with the police while also throwing explosives at law enforcement from inside the Holey Artisan Bakery Cafe.
A local police station chief, Mohammed Salahuddin, was killed in the attack according to his assistant Ashraful Karim in an interview with the UK’s Guardian.
It’s believed that no less than a dozen policemen are currently being treated for injuries at the United Hospital which is also located in the diplomatic district.
Jamuna Television quoted a kitchen staff worker who escaped the cafe as saying the gunman chanted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) when the attack began.
The whole area has effectively been shut down by police as they look for a peaceful resolution that is unlikely.
Ahmed, chief of the Rapid Action Battalion, said: “We believe we can resolve this peacefully.”
“Some derailed youths have entered the restaurant and launched the attack. We have talked to some of the people who fled the restaurant after the attack,” Ahmed said. “We are trying to talk to the attackers, we want to listen to them about what they want.”
According to a spokesperson for U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, all U.S Embassy personnel have been accounted for tonight.
VIDEO: (Courtesy CNN)