Bangladesh siege restaurant reopens after massacre

The upscale restaurant in Bangladesh where Islamist extremists killed 22 hostages last year has reopened at a new location, its owner said Wednesday.

The Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka was a favourite hangout for the city's expats and well-heeled until five armed men laid siege to it on July 1 last year, taking dozens of diners hostage. Eighteen of the 22 people killed were foreigners.

Its owners said they had received "overwhelming" support for the decision to reopen the cafe on Tuesday at a shopping mall, just a few blocks away from its previous location in the heart of the diplomatic district.

They plan to turn its former home, a two-storey lakeside building with a garden where diners used to sit and chat, into a residence for themselves.

"We've reopened as we don't want to be held back by fear. The people's support has been overwhelming," Ali Arsalan told AFP.

The new outlet will initially operate mainly as a takeaway, with a small number of tables.

Nevertheless its Facebook page was inundated with positive message after the owners announced it was reopening.

"Feels like a tiny life renewal for Dhaka," posted expat Marilyn Watson, calling it a "joyful welcoming place".

Many in Dhaka's small expat community fled the country after the massacre, which capped a three-year long campaign of murders by Islamist extremists whose targets included foreigners, rights activists and members of religious minorities.

Japanese and Italian diners were among the 18 foreigners shot and hacked to death in the attack.

The siege lasted for 10 hours until army commandos, using armoured vehicles, stormed the compound.

Authorities have blamed a local Islamist extremist group, rejecting the DAESH organisation's claim of responsibility.

Since the deadly assault, security forces have killed around 50 Islamist militants including a Bangladeshi-origin Canadian whom police described as the siege mastermind.

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