Bangladesh: 10-kilometre human chain protesting against attacks on minorities

At least 11 suspected militants have been killed in shootouts since November, including five earlier this month. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Dhaka Jun 19, 2016, 02.56 PM (IST)
Protesters in Dhaka formed a 10-kilometre human chain in a demonstration on Sunday protesting against secret killings and attacks on members of minority religions around Bangladesh.

The protesters, including members of the 14-party alliance led by the ruling Awami League Party, held banners and chanted slogans following the attacks which were claimed by Islamic State or al Qaeda groups, despite the government denying that either has a presence in Bangladesh, a majority Muslim country of 160 million.

Christian shopkeeper Sunil Gomez from Natore, Hindu priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly from Jhenaidah district, and Nitya Ranjan Pandey, a Hindu monastery worker from Pabna, were killed in attacks claimed by Islamic State in just one week earlier in June.

Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, the wife of a prominent anti-terror police officer, was also stabbed and shot to death in an apparently targeted killing in the coastal Bangladeshi city of Chittagong. Her husband, police superintendent Babul Akter, had led high-profile operations against the banned Islamist group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

"Recently there are secret killings by the militants all over the country. They are killing the religious minority, they are attacking priests of the different religions. At this moment we, all the supporters of the 14 party alliances and pro-liberation front, those who fight for liberation of Bangladesh today, form a human chain protesting against the secret killing and militants all over the country," said Member of Parliament Shirin Akhtar at the protest.

The demonstration came a day after a suspected Islamist militant was killed on Saturday in a shootout in Bangladesh after he critically wounded a Hindu college teacher in the latest attack on minority groups.

Ghulam Faijullaha Fahim, 19, who was in police custody, was shot when officers took him with them to help capture his associates, police said. Mathematics teacher Ripon Chakraborty was attacked by Fahim and two other knife-wielding assailants when he answered the doorbell at his home in Madaripur on June 15.

At least 11 suspected militants have been killed in shootouts since November, including five earlier this month, as the authorities step up a hunt for Islamists to stop a wave of deadly attacks.

Militants have killed more than 30 people since early last year, ranging from atheist bloggers and liberal academics to gay rights campaigners, foreign aid workers, members of minority Muslim sects and other religious groups.

Hindus and Christians make up about 10 per cent of Bangladesh's 160 million population.
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