Islamic State claims third attack in week on Bangladesh minorities

Islamic State claims third attack in week on Bangladesh minorities

Bangladeshi onlookers gather near the body of Hindu priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly after he was killed in Jhenidah on June 7, 2016. (AFP)

Dhaka | Jun 14, 2016, 08.05 AM (IST)

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of a Hindu monastery worker who was stabbed to death in Bangladesh, a monitoring service tracking militant online activity reported a day after the slaying.

It was the third killing of a member of religious minorities in the majority-Muslim country that the group has taken responsibility for in the past week.

The claim was carried by Islamic State's Amaq news agency, Site Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring service said today.

Police said unidentified assailants attacked Nitya Ranjan Pandey, 60, while he was walking in the northwestern district of Pabna early on Friday morning.

"He was found lying in a pool of blood," district police chief Alamgir Kabir said, adding that no one saw the attackers.

Hundreds of suspects have been held across the country after police launched a week-long crackdown on militants after a wave of gruesome killings.

In the past week alone, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian shopkeeper were hacked to death - both of which Islamic State claimed responsibility for. The Muslim wife of a counter-terrorism police official was also killed.

Militants have killed more than 30 people in Bangladesh, including members of religious minorities, liberal bloggers and academics, since February last year.

According to SITE, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for 21 of the attacks since its first claim in September last year and al-Qaeda has claimed most of the rest.

The government denies either group having a presence in Bangladesh and says domestic militants are responsible.

Five suspected members of the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen were killed in shootouts after the woman was stabbed and shot dead on Sunday.

Last month, police announced $23,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest of six militants of Ansarullah Bangla Team, another outlawed group they believe is behind the violence.

Analysts say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of religious hate crimes.

The government blames the growing violence on political opponents linked to Islamist parties, that it accuses of creating chaos and preventing courts from going ahead with war crimes trials related to the 1971 war of independence.
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