tv MSNBC Live MSNBC July 1, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
friends when you go out. your own individual security strategy. the police have theirs, the military has theirs, the state, nation you are in. if you go out with your own, alertness and paying attention to exits and where you go and so you have to pay real close attention. look at the attack at the istanbul airport. military grade explosives, those are devastating. and an attacker sending the crowd running where another attacker is waiting. you have got to keep your wits about you and you have got to think all the time an attack could come at any moment. that's no guarantee of safety. you can't just stay in your room the rest of your life. but you have to be alert, pay attention and you have got to be thinking about it. >> jim, i'm going to ask you to stay with usle i'm going to wrap things up for this hour live on msnbc as we continue to monitor the breaking situation taking place in the capital city of bangladesh. i'm going to happened hinges
over to thomas roberts. another hour of live msnbc breaking news coverage begins right now. >> out of dhaka, again, gunmen opened fire in the diplomatic quarter there, dhaka being the capital city in bangladesh and we have been getting different reports about how many people could be held hess taj inside different cafes and restaurants. and also how many gunmen could be involved with this. we have seen original reports that police engaged in gunfire back and forth with whoever these people are and there are some injuries reported out of that. first to the state department. we just had a briefing a short time ago from john kirby talking about americans and how they have been able to so far confirm there are none involved in this altercation. take a listen. >> first, and i know you guys are probably tracking this -- we're certainly aware of reports of what appears to be a hostage situation in the gulshan neighborhood of dhaka in bangladesh.
we're aware that local security forces are on the scene and responding. our embassy in dhaka is currently conducting accountability. i can tell you as of now, just before i came out here, that think of accounted for 100% of american citizens working under the chief of mission authority. >> all right. so 100% of american citizens working under chief of authority there are accounted for currently. i want to go to lusy cavanaugh, she is monitoring the situation for us. i understand you spoke to someone on the ground there? >> right, i worked in neighboring myanmar, but not in bangladesh itself. i have spoken to a local journalist who has has been based there for years. she is familiar with this gulshan area this deposit low mattic enclave where the hostage situation is unfold thing. she says this is the most secure portion of the country. there are checkpoints to get into the area. they are more geared towards
cars andics into. if militants wanted to get in on foot they would be able to do see. this bakery was hugely popular to expats and foreigners. it was a tremendous blow. they thought this was a safe area, that something like this would not take place there. security has gotten heavier in bangladesh in general, especially in these diplomatic enclaves since 2015, that is when the islamic state set its sights on bangladesh. there was an attack in 2015 in which an italian aid worker was shot dead while he was jogging in the diplomatic enclave. isis claimed responsibility for that attack. there have been many others. and really there has been a gruesome pattern of attacks. secular activists, free seech activists, religious minorities, a doctor was hacked to death as early as friday morning inside a temple in bangladesh. a disturbing pattern of
activity. this is certainly going to be a blow for any westerners or diplomats based in the area. >> lucy stand by. let's go to msnbc's cal perri. cal, you are also familiar with this area. as lucy was talking about, there is gulshan one and gulshan 2. how they divide up the diplomatic quarters. explain what you have been able to find out about the specific location of where this is taking place. >> inside this diplomatic enclave as we've been talking about is the location called the holey bakery. don't think of it as a traditional bakery. it becomes a restaurant in the evening. this attack started two hours ago. people would have been just been finishing up dinner. when we say holey bakery. that's the name of the establishment. it's not a bakery in the evening. we are getting first images in from local hospitals showing some of the security forces who have been wounding of the you
see it on your screen. this is taxing on the security forces. let's keep in mind bangladesh is an incredibly poor nation. this is not a country with the same kind of resources you would find here in the west or even in other countries in southeast asia. again, what we know as of right now, about two hours ago, somewhere between seven or nine gunmen with improvised explosive devices went into this bakery, slash, restaurant and they have somewhere between 20 to 60 hostages inside. again, the concern is because of this location, because it is the diplomatic enclave there could be foreigners, westerners stuck in what is clearly becoming an extraordinary situation. >> we are learning the president has yet to be briefed on the situation out of dhaka. josh earnest giving a briefing from the white house, bay daily. they do the briefing around the same time every day. but we have not gotten confirmation on the president
being briefed on what's taking place. this began roughly two hours ago. we first got tweets from the u.s. embass there in dhaka talking about what was taking place in what is a pretty secure quarter, a diplomatic zone in dhaka. right now there is the estimate of 20 to 60 people being held hostage. foreigners. but we heard from the state department that the americans that are working under the embassy, the ones that would be registered under the chief authority there have been accounted for. joining me on the phone is terrorist analyst malcolm fans. he has insight about this region and connections toism from. malcolm, are you surprised about this quarter, this diplomatic zone being a target and a site that could be infiltrated by some type of armed gunmen or militants? >> well, sproois surprised at the depth and intensity of this particular attack. as we've heard there have been other incidents. there was a shooting of an italian jogger last year who was
in the gulshan 1 area. this attack is taking place a little bit further to the north-northwest in gulshan 2. it is a narrow area. it is a diplomatic area. there is a lot of security, which for ng bangladesh, granted is not as professional as we might see in western europe or other countries. but there is a lot of security. but a determined sophisticated attack, in depth, on a place like the holey bakery, which is more of a cafe/restaurant is -- and taking a hostage barricade, which is what we are seeing right now is extremely surprising. and again, this leads that -- indicators -- gives us indicators that we may be dealing with a group of militants who may be homegrown but who have links externally and have been given some form of training and certainly some leadership as to this attack. >> okay. if you are just joining us, again, we are following the situation out of dhaka. something started there roughly about two hours ago in the
diplomatic zone in the capital of bangladesh. armed gunmen stormed a local bakery. it is called the holey artisan bakery. this is a spot that also turns into kind of a hot spot for expats, also for diplomats, middle class families. this turns into a restaurant at night. right now there are reports there are at least 20 to 60 people who have been taken hostage and there are roughly eight to nine gun men. ayman model dean joins me now. this is something we are trying to drill down on the number here of the people that could be hostage. the u.s. embassy in dhaka reported reports of shooting and a hostage situation. have you heard more about this fluid number between 20 to 60? >> no, not yet. i have been trying to get ahold of folks in bangladesh, specifically in dhaka, journalists and owes to try to connect with them to get what they are hearing directly from
their sources and also to get updates on the ground. that is proving difficult. you can imagine in a fluid situation like this connectivity is going to be a problem for bangladesh. as we've been talking about this the past hour or so it's important to keep in mind the context of what bangladesh has been going through. security has become an increasing problem there. we are talking about what happened in istanbul and obviously on the heels of things in recent months a attacks by isis and al qaeda, that you can't rule that out given the nature of what we are seeing right now in bangladesh. this would be a very significant development even by that country's standards, which has had a spade of attacks. as we've been reporting over the past year or so, there have been at least 30 people killed. many of them individuals that were either activists or writers, members of the gay community in bangladesh, seculars who have been trying to you know put a spotlight on some of this increasing violence in the country. they have been systematically targeted. this would be a departure from what we've seen mostly as
individual low level attacks to something much more sophisticated, something much morp coordinated. it seems from the initial reports that we are getting that there are multiple attackers involved in this situation. they -- at least as we are now understanding it, it is a hostage situation that is unelt folding. again, it is demonstrating a certain space indication, by the attackers which we haven't seen in bangladesh. again, a country which has seen its fair share of low level violence but even this is a departure for that country. as we are saying, still more details coming in over what we are learning on the ground. we are working the phones trying to learn the details. >> there has been an image that's been cleared that shows hospital workers that are administering aid -- there it is -- to these at least reported three police officers who have been wounded for the attack that started out in this area of dhaka.
again, this is a cultural, and it's a hot spot, a hub, a friday night with people that were taking to the city streets there. and this is an area that was well-known as the diplomatic quarter. also with tight security because there are other embassies within in region along the river. we are waiting to find out more information specifically about the people being held hes hostage a. lot of people would have sheltered in place. this is something that's fluid and probably confused so many people out trying to enjoy their evening. the actual spot where this is believed to have started is the holey bakery. again, don't be confused by the name. this turns into a restaurant at night that's very popular with foreigners. right now we don't have any confirmation of americans being involved as a hostage right now. we are working on that. however, the u.s. state department has said that all of the people that they have on their list as americans working within that quarter have been accounted for. i'm joined by steven clemens,
the editor at large for the atlantic. he has been to the area. steve, what can you the me about dhaka and specifically about this diplomatic dwrt and what it's like? >> this is a wonderful place in dhaka. as others have described it, it is a place that the name doesn't really capture. it is felt to be a safe place. it's a place where not only a diplomatic community is there, but enema of the ngo internationals who have come in to work on women's rights, secularism, poverty issues, micro credits. it's the watering hole forhose people who have been working to engage with bangladesh and help it move forward. and as others have said, there are a lot of check points. and it's -- you don't have the feeling of overwhelming security there, but it was considered a safe spot. but i think there has been an increasing targeted killing campaign primarily of bangladeshis who are secular
activists. a popular progressive blogger was hacked to death. another, who was the publisher of the first lgbt magazine was killed just a few months ago in bangladesh. you have had sunni and sheite muslims that have been trying to be more pluralistic killed. this morning you had a hindu priest who was hacked to disaster there. these have been noted. but it has been increasing, targeted and worrisome, and there wasn't a lot of attention being paid to what was getting worse there. this is a striking step forward where foreigners are being targeted much more and it is a sad day. >> steve stand by for us. just a recap if you are just joining our breaking news coverage. we are following a fast moving situation out of dhaka. dhaka being the capital city for bangladesh. reports of eight to nine gunmen have stormed a popular area here with cafes and people out on a friday night going into the
holey artisan bakery. we believe there are 20 to 60 hostages. people from the state department said people under their purview are accounted for in terms of americans. we are working on exactly who is being held hostage, what type of foreigners and how many. as we have heard, as many up to 60. back with more after this. (vo) stank face. a universal expression of disgust, often caused by inadequate cat litter. if you or your a loved one suffers from stank face, the cure is tidy cats. it's new and improved with guaranteed tidylock protection that locks away odors. so you don't have to face one more stank face. tidy cats. every home, every cat. there's a tidy cats for that. built a sandcastle?id? ha, no, i switched to geico and got more. more? 24/7 access online, on the phone or with the geico app. that is more. go get some mud...
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breaking news out of dhaka in bangladesh after gunmen stormed the diplomatic quarter. eight to nine gunmen reportedly opening fire and exchanging in a gunfire battle with officers. now there are reports of 20 to 60 hostages. reuters is reporting there are foreigners being held hostage. msnbc hasn't been able to
confirm that. cal perri has information. >> let's start with local media. the u.s. state department urging all those in the area to monitor local media. local media went to tape. tape makes us believe usually is about to happen. usually when they come off the live pictures that's an indication they don't want to give anything away to the attackers inside. we have a digital view of the bakery, slash restaurant. show you what it looks like inside this restaurant. again, the holey bakery leads us to believe it is a bakery. as you see there this is a restaurant in the evening in bangladesh. people refer to it as a popular watering hole. let's switch to the outside view. that's what it looks like from the outside. it gives you an idea of the setting this is taking place in and why it is so attractive to foreigners and tourists who visit bangladesh. >> we heard earlier about the u.s. state department giving some confirmation or some new
insight into what was taking place. we're still waiting to hear if president obama has been briefed about the situation that's taking place there. and this is just popping up, no americans -- again, this is from the state department. no americans in the chief of mission were involved in this incident. they are still accounting for all private american citizens who might have been in that area. and we don't have a final count on that. it is still a fluid situation. so any americans that have been working or been accounted for under the u.s. embassy there are not involved with this. the state department is saying, though, there are private american citizens who might be involved with this. i'm joined now by james moriarty, the former u.s. ambassador to bangladesh. sir, have you had contact with anyone on the ground there? if so, what have they told you. >> no i haven't had direct contact with people out there. i was last there a couple of weeks ago. and i think that what you are seeing right now is an attempt
by bad guys to show that they can attack where they want when they want. you know, this is a big step up in terms of the violence. you know, capping these series of mostly murders of individuals. now all of a sudden you have an attack inside a very well guarded section of the country. this is the epicenter of wealth in the entire country. and since it experienced one of the first attacks back in september, the murder of an italian working for a dutch ngo, i believe security has been stepped up there quite a bit. >> explain security for us. what is the security like? how do people get into this quarter? >> well you do have roads coming in. but the roads all have checkpoints on them coming into the diplomatic enclave. i'm pretty sure this is a restaurant that was literally about three quarters of a mile from my old residence. to get there, you know, you had
to go past some security. but obviously, it didn't catch whatever was happening. i don't want to overstate it in any sense, but you know, not every car is stopped and told to open their trunk and things like that but you do go past armed guards entering into this part of the city. >> that would be a part of the security checkpoints argues random check for folks coming through if they were coming by vehicle. sometimes cars are pulled over, sometimes others are green lit through? >> yeah, the majority of cars are green lit through but if they suspect something cars can be stopped. >> when you were just there a while ago arc few weeks ago, what was more noticeable to you in terms of security being heightened arz compared to other times. >> like i said, compared to my business before last september, the security was obviously stepped up. more cops around. more rapid action battalion people around. so you could tell that they were
at a higher level than they have been, say, spring of last year or summer of last year. >> and when you say about the checkpoints and also seeing more security, are you saying that these security personnel -- you see them on foot more? do you see them walking down streets? or by the cafes? >> ep why, both walking a -- ye and in vehicles. >> sir, thanks, the former u.s. ambassador to bangladesh, james moriarty. i want to go to a resident who lives down the street from where this is going on. what are you seeing? what have you heard? >> hi. by heard -- woke up in the night here in dhaka. and around 9:30 we heard what we thought were just like cars backfiring. and it turned out to be fun geyer. since then, intermittently there have been various explosions,
blasts, and gunfire coming from down the street where holey is. we've also seen a lot of tactical vehicles and police cars, rapid action battalion coming down our street over the last couple of hours. >> all right. so what's a friday night typically like in dhaka? how many people would be out? is this the height of dinnertime for folks? >> yeah. when this went down, a lot of people would be out. holey is a pretty popular restaurant. and popular for this area, a lot of bangladeshis as well as expats would typically -- it's typically a very full restaurant on a friday ooechks evening. >> when it comes to this neighborhood and security patrols, any type of enhanced security patrols, what have you seen over recent months, or noticed that makes you think that you are safer within this
perimeter? >> i wouldn't actually necessarily say that we are a lot safer within this perimeter versus in the city actually over the last few months, you know, there have been various attacks within dhaka as well as a shooting of a foreigner not -- just a few blocks away from where this current terrorist attack -- or whatever it is -- is happening. >> i want to be very conscientious about your safety and security. but is it possible for you to look out the window right now and tell us what you are seeing? >> yeah, we are looking out the window at the moment. the street outside us is somewhat quiet. just a few minutes before you called, we saw some large tactical vehicles with water cannons going by the street. but right now the street is relatively quiet. we see a number of policemen kinds of seated on the sidewalk and some police vehicles slowly
making their way through the street. not a lot of activity right here. >> if you were to walk out of your building, which way would we go to get to this restaurant? how close are you? >> we go left and it's just about a five minute walk from where i'm standing right now in our apartment. >> right now are there pedestrians on the street? or it's completely clear? >> no. there are folks walking around. seems like they are mostly either security folks or journalists, although i will -- earlier it seemed like there was more confusion there were definitely normal civilians walking down the street in the middle of kind the police. right now a pretty large vehicle with what it looks like our big tanks of water coming through as well. >> explain what they look like?
president clinton is what that looks like. >> so there is an ambulance and another big vehicle with a siren and a light on top. and then there are some large canisters in the basket it looks like they also have like large electrical lights. we can see if we look down the street towards holey. that part of the street is lit up. this may be additional lighting i'm not sure. >> we had an image of the holey bakery. there it is. it looks like it's kind of set back from the ground. kind of grand property. election pretty well established. what else is around this? are there other restaurants and other hubs for folks on a friday night? or is this kind of centralized as one specific spot? >> yeah, i mean, i wouldn't say it's quite in a hub. this is actually in a residential area. so most of the homes around the restaurant are just that,
private homes and residences. there are also a smattering of embassies and expat clubs in the neighborhood. but holey is actually situated right on the end of the road. so it is a little bit isolated actually, it's not open to major -- like main thoroughfare on the road. across from holey is actually a clinic called lakeview clinic. but finding it ironic that my husband and i were commenting on this a couple of weeks ago actually that really there is not that much security, folks with just walk in and out. i mean, there is a gate and a guard. but it's a really lovely, open property, and folks could walk in without any kind of hindrance if they wanted to. >> you are talking about holey, that it's pretty open in terms of how to get to that property? >> oh, yeah. yes. i mean, there is no specific
security either on that property or right near that road. and so pretty much anyone could walk in without being stopped unless, you know, for some reason the person who mans the gates thought they were suspicion. >> thank you very much for this very specific, you know, eyewitness point of view as you live in this neighborhood, as you were saying, just a five-minute walk from where you currently live. thank you very much, you and your husband stay safe. i want to do to ayman mow hi dean. do you have more information. >> reporter: as we look into who may be involved in the landscape there in bangladesh, obviously the first one that kind of comes to mind is isis. we've been digging back a little bit into some of isis's recent claims and more importantly some of its own on line publications. one of things that has emerged obviously there is in recent months -- since its magazine has been published on line, the de beak magazine, there have been
calls by isis to increase activities, increase its presence in bangladesh. we don't know the motive of this attack but we as study different groups and different actors possibilities isis comes to mind and there is an indication that isis wanted to have an increased presence with more attacks in bangladesh. we are looking into reasons why this particular area, why this particular location, why this particular country. and there has been an interest by isis followers and isis leaders in recent minds to step up attacks in bangladesh. bangladesh is the fourth largest muslim population in the world. in recent years, the government in bangladesh, the prime minister and others have been systematically denying that there is a rise of isis or al qaeda-affiliated groups. that has made groups like isis and al qaeda in the indian subcontinent more determined to
carry out these attacks. we have been listening and some of the attacks that took place over the past year they have been mostly attacks targeting individuals. we've seen the killing of activists, the killing of writers, the killing of notable secular politicians in that country. what we reason is seen, and this would be a significant point of departure for that country is this large-scale attack. and what we mean by large scale is obviously the initial report suggests there are multiple attackers, a number of hostages, where it's taking place, in a diplomatic enclave of the capital. all those factors say there is something more significant to this attack from what we've seen in the past. we are reporting and learning that isis has for the past year intended to expand its footprint in bangladesh. that is according to their own online pub lay indications and some of the calls by its followers and its, i guess members, if you will, not just in bangladesh, but across the
southeast continent of pakistan and india as well. >> all right. we're also working right now to figure out some new information about any deaths that are involved with what has taken place here. and so i want to be very cautious about what we are potentially reporting. but it involves the police that engaged in fire with these gunmen. again, eight to nine have stormed this area, dhaka being a diplomatic enclave within the area. and dhaka being the capital city of bangladesh. and all the embassies are in this what is describe to be as a secure quarter. we were just speaking with a resident, a neighbor that lives in this area, about five minutes away. she was explaining the type of vehicles. maybe water cannons on the backs of types of til military vehicles that were coming in, as well as ambulances, saying there were also vehicles with large lights on them.
that down the street by where this is taking place at the holey artisan bakery. she just referred to it as holey she said it's well lit up. but where it is, it's kind of at the end of the drive but right up on the river. it's more ice laitd lated and remote in terms of its location. but we are getting early reports about wounded police officers. and we are now trying to figure out if there are any deaths involved with this. i want to go back to lucy cavanaugh in london. lucy, do you have indications we might have heard about a death involved so far? >> there is some information that reuter's is reporting potentially about a death. but nothing that nbc has been able to verify. to recap briefly -- i know you have gone through this but what we have so far is approximately eight, maybe nine gunmen stormed this bakery that's been very popular with foreigners. there is potentially an
unfoaling hostage situation there. this is a diplomatic enclave likely to be frequented by foreigners. i spoke to local jurnlists based in the area, they said this is an area where they truly expected to be safe. there are checkpoints in the neighborhood in order to get into it. those are not focused on pedestrian passengers, they are more focused on cars and motorcycles maybe going through and they are just spot-checked for whoever looks suspicious. that makes it easy for determined gunmen to get in and out of the area. we do know this is one of the safest areas in the entire country. security had been stepped up since 2015 which is when isis basically set its sights on bangladesh with the tragic shooting of an italian back in 2015. isis claimed responsibility for. that there has been a host of other gruesome killings of secular activists, free speech
advocates, dangerous times in bangladesh. with this attack -- clearly we don't have a lot of details. but this is eight or nine gunmen. a coordinated attack. a lot of people, a lot of planning likely went into this. if it turns out these facts are correct this is unchartered territory for bangladesh and very much a worrying turn. lucy thanks so much. we are getting information from a photojournalist based in dhaka currently on the scene. cal perri was reporting the fact that right now local television right there is in taped turnaround programming. basically in blackout mode so as not to give away positioning of forces on the ground trying to take out these gunmen who have up to 20 to 60 hostages. but this post journalist is saying -- this is unconfirmed by nbc at this point there is at least one police officer who has been killed. two others were injured. we had earlier reports that there were at least three officers shot. we were going to take a quick
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we continue to follow the break news otd out of dhaka, the capital of bangladesh. early yesh this evening for them -- it was around 10:00 at night when gunmen, eight to nine stormed the area, a popular area within the diplomatic quarter, which now the holey artisan bakery a popular restaurant in the area has 20 to 60 hostages. police have gone and. we have original reports of at least police officers who have been shot. they did open and exchange in gunfire with them. a photojournalist on the scene said he heard a grenade go off, also witnessed the gunfire back and forth. but the holey bakery where it's located geographically in this diplomatic enclave is at the end
of a road right next to a lake. and it's an isolated section right at the end and not much security. jim cavanaugh is with a us and has been with us the last couple of hours. jim, the neighbor we were speaking to was witness the different type of vehicles that are being brought into this spot. as i'm looking at it, and the map of this area, again, it's right up against the lake. and positioned in such a way where the street is a dead-end, and the restaurant is pretty isolated in terms of the fact that it is set apart, and alone. >> i think carefully niece terrorists these actors have picked this spot carefully for effect, for their cause, whatever that may be, whether it turns out to be al qaeda or isis or some other group. they have carefully picked this spot to get the international attention, the theater they want. and to be a able to draw this out. not to be so quick to have it end. part of the reason why they want
to take hostages is to draw that out. of course as you've been reporting, who are the hostages? this is critical because in other sieges they separate the people by nationality, by religion, by passports, sometimes women and children are released. sometimes nationals are released. there is a lot of things that come into play. then what do they want? who are their demands? even though those demands will be completely unachievable there will be some sort of demand or some sort of statement they want to get out. >> one thing i want to report is jim roughly three blocks down on the lake right on the water is the united hospital. so for officers or anyone that has been involved in any type of casual tees, for medical treatment at least there is a hospital very close by. we are working to find out
exactly how many people have been injured. there were originally reports of three officers who have been shot. now the photojournalist -- one photojournalist on site is saying there has been at lease one officer killed. msnbc news is trying to verify that information independently. the work of the negotiators, the conversations that need to be had about any type of negotiate, so that the hostage, anybody having dinner inside this restaurant can be freed, how do those talks initially start? how do they begin those? >> first they have to press to point of contact. that's where the explosives complicate their efforts as well. pous because the further away you are from the actors and the hostages the more difficult your emergency assault may become. so you want to press the point of contact as close as they can get. then it becomes academic.
a simple phone call on the cell phone of the might start. you know, i'm the police. i'm here. what is it you want? let's talk. they will probably start giving some demands. we want bangladesh to do this. or we want all these people to do that. we want you to release some prisoners. we want this. we want that. whatever those demands may be. if they speaking to you directly. they may let a hostage speaking to you. or they may not even answer the phone. you have got to try to get a dialogue going. there is a better chance when there is no killing going on. if there is no killing going on, it means at least they may enter into dialogue to get their demand out, their group out, they could drop a flag out the window to signify what they are working for. i would imagine those to happen in the next hours. >> cal perri, give us an idea of
where this is happening? it is a combined commercial residential space. >> we have a local map. this will give you an idea of the neighborhood this this restaurant is in. we want to stress to people, this a diplomatic enclave, popular amongst westerners visiting the country. which clearly was the target, carefully chosen. as we look broader, look at region, as we pull out we can look at how this is playing out. >>io politically. bangladesh there. india to its west. pakistan further to the west. and it's important to remember that as we say that this enclave is a secure location what we mean by that is it's probably the most secure location in the country but it's not secure to the point that you would think of airports here in the west or even other places in the middle east. we are not talking about very highly trained security force. we are talking about largely conscripted forces across the country. and i think that's important as this story unfolds.
we need to sort of understand this is a third world country. this is an incredibly poor country. it is a very beautiful country with some of the kindest people in the world. can i say that from having traveled there. but it is an impoverished igs in a. you can see there the equipment that these security forces are using and dealing with are not the same as we have here in the west. as this plays out -- it seems that the hostage takers want to drag this out as long as possible because frankly bangladesh is not in the international media very often. it's not something we talk about here in mainstream american media. this will do that because of this neighborhood, because it's frequented by westerners, by europeans -- there are dozens, dozens of embassies inside this diplomatic enclave inside this neighborhood. clearly this was chosen as a target because it is one of the more fairly secured parts of the city. >> left side we talk about those
who would go frequent this place because it is popular it would be a mixed crowd. >> a unique crowd of adventure travelers of people that want to go to these places around the world. we see a lot of people going to indiana and bangladesh. but it's off the booten paths. it's not like going to paris. bangladesh is one of those places where the u.s. embassy urges american citizens check in with us, let us know your travel plans. if you are going south along the delta which has seen damage from a variety of attacks in the past but also frankly from global warming as the delta and the water rises the u.s. embassy tells people check in with us when you a arrive here. you are a target just because you look and stand out in a crowd. this is a very poor country as i mentioned. and you will hear security officials talk about that. and they will use the phrase auctioning atm machine. some of these are targets of
opportunity. this is clearly an attack. and as we heard from malcolm fans unprecedented in a country like bangladesh. >> one thing we have been monitoring is the state department who gave a briefing earlier this hour talking about the fact that those that are working within the embassy, those under the chief of council there, have been accounted for. private american citizens have not all been accounted for. they have not been able to give complete guaranteed reference to their safety as if they are not potentially involved as one of the hostages that could have been taken here at the holey bakery restaurant. one thing that just came through was a tweet by the nypd kourptd terrorism chief saying, monitoring the events in bangladesh. eema mall -- ayman mall dean is also following this with us. when we think about how there would be ripple effects and we are several days away from the end of ramadan there had been an earlier concern about the state
department, one about travel, also another about a spike of violence that could happen between now and the ends of the holy month. >> we are just a few days away from the enof the month. but realize that motivation for stepped up attacks is really a claim made by isis. we saw earlier in the year before the beginning of the holy month isis calling for stepped up attacks in all of their member states, if you will, where they have followers and inspired and radicalized individuals. so if this turns out to be isis, that would fit the profile of what the group has been doing not just across the region with what we saw in istanbul, that attack believed to be the work of isis according to turkish officials. but also the fact that isis has been trying to beef up or step up its presence in bangladesh. it's the fourth or fifth largest muslim country in the world. about 150 million people there, 09d #% of that country is muslim. but it also sits on an important axis point between pakistan and
india. it has a gee yosk significance that isis has been explicit about wanting to get a foot hold in. going back months ago to an issue of its on line propaganda magazine isis was talking about wanting to step up its presence and number of attacks in bangladesh. we have been talking about this attack and previous attacks in that country. most have been assassinations, the killing of individuals, activists, writers, notable people, secular individuals or secular activists. but there hasn't been anything on this scale. this is significant for a few reasons. this would be a point of point of departure for the country, entering a new phase. the government has been down playing the presence of organizations like isis. they have systematically said that al qaeda in the subcontinent or al qaeda as we know it here did not have a strong confused hold there, isis
didn't have a strong foot hold there. the attacks were attacks of lone wolves. there was criticism against the government of this country that they were not taking this threat of extremism seriously. the presence of westerners in dhaka is expected. companies like chevron and others, hsbc, the banking company -- it wouldn't be unusual to have a substantial number of people going out to eat on a weekend night in dhaka. >> i have new and specific information about an assistant superintendantent that's leading one of the rapid action battalion squads right there on the scene in dhaka. i'm going to gothrough this information and bring it to you right after this break.
we continue to follow breaking news in dhaka in bangladesh where gun men have taken over a restaurant with hostages inside. there are reportedly several deaths now involved with the police force who responded to this. one of our reporters who works in the region has been on the phone with an assistant superintendent on the scene. raj, what can you tell us? what did he confirm to you? >> it's an ongoing operation, thomas. there is around seven to eight militants from an unidentified extremist militant group which the assistant superintendent told me about. they have engaged with heavy weapons and grenades. the militants are well trained according to the police officer. four police personnel have been killed, including the officer commanding of the police station in that vicinity.
there is around 40 hostages according to this official inside and at least one of them is confirmed to be a wernstern . >> when we talk about hostages, did they say there were folks -- this assistant superintendent, there were folks who were able to escape? >> he was not clear about that at all, thomas, because the fire fight was going on. i could actually hear him, and then the fighting in the background with the gunshots going on. he was not clear. but reports from the local bangladeshi media indicate that some people did manage to leave the vicinity, this particular vicinity, which is the holidayy artisan calf say. >> raj, quickly, when we talk about the suspects, the description again that the assistant superintendent gave of these gunmen was what? >> it was extremist militants. that's the word he used a couple
of times. extremist militants. when i asked him which particular group, there is a whole range of militant organizations that operate inside bangladesh. he said it's an unidentified militant group. we don't know who it is yet. >> and again -- >> and by the way, nobody in bangladesh media has claimed that one particular group has done this or not. >> and right now w what this person told you, involved, there has been several deaths. but these are with the security personnel that engaged in fire, police personnel engaging in gunfire with these attackers? >> that's right. the engagement is ongoing at lea -- at least four police personnel have been killed, including a senior police official. at this point, he did not indicate whether they have managed to kill any of the seven to eight militants.
they are still inside. >> raj in islam bad who spoke with an assistant superintendent on the ground there in dhaka. now we have an msnbc terrorist analyst. at this point when we think of these folks and their safety, 40 hostages potentially inside this restaurant. when it comes to extremist militants and any type of negotiation when taking hostages, what is the end game for those militants in this region? do you know? can you give us a point of reference? an example? >> i mean, clearly with this type of fluid situation it's unclear what their demands are. if indeed a terror group is behind it they likely have a political message, whether against the bengali government or other regional governments or simply trying to change the discourse of the government's foreign policy for that matter,
its relationship with the united states or with the west or so on. or even trying to make it a retaliation against the government for cracking down on certain militants previously as we know that the bengali government has done again and again. to add to the complication. there are several groups in bangladesh. i.c.e. recently claimed responsibility for an assassination of a buddhist leader of sorts. al qaeda also has a robust cell. both of them are operating under al qaeda's branch, al qaeda in the independent yant subcontinent. this is adding to the complexity of the situation. what those guys would want is likely to deliver a political message of sorts. >> are there other militant organizations operating within this fwrum or just isis and al
qaeda? >> primarily icist and al qaeda. there would be possible cells not affiliated with either group. but the likeliness is that these militants have their allegiance to one group or another. >> again, we have gotten this original information from a assistant superintendent who is leading one of the squads on the scene giving a description about the expects calling them extremist militants. however, they are from an unidentified group. this is happening in the capital city of dhaka in bangladesh, and this is an area known as the dptdic enclave, a zone separated between gulshan 1 and gulshan 2. this is happening in the gulshan 2 area, the holidayy artisan bakery, which is a restaurant, which is very popular at night which we heard from neighbors this this year. the fact this would be an attractive spot for foreigners, ex-pats, dptds living s -- di living in this region, how vuler
in is this spot, knowing this would be the securest spot in the entire country? >> sure, we've seen it over and over again with jihadic groups targeting soft targets where security is down, people are trying to go about their daily life, have fun, some downtime. we have seen it at the west gate mall in kenya, seen it happen at the orlando nightclub. we've seen it happen over and again whether directed by the specific group or by inspiration of the group these areas are constantly targeted. of course the presence of westerners in these areas, upscale areas in these countries are primary targets because you know, if anything they can get their hands on some werner whose government is involved in the u.s.-led coalition and they find justification for doing so. >> according to one of our producers roughly 40 hostages
potentially taken. not aware of the identities. however there could be one werner among those hostages. thanks so much. that does it for me right now. stay tuned kate snow picks things up right now. >> good day i'm kate snow, msnbc headquarters here in new york. we continue to follow breaking news out of bangladesh where a group of gunmen attacked a restaurant frequented by action-pats near a u.s. embassy. a witness telling msnbc it started around 9:30 or 10:00 local time tonight. that's three and a half hours ago. she heard the sounds of fun geyer, then a various sounds of fun geyer and explosions. that witness saying she is still seeing tactical vehicles, ambulances, gunmen took hostages after exchanging in gunfire against police.