Hindu priest in Bangladesh killed in suspected Islamist attack
Three people on a motorcycle attacked Ananta Gopal Ganguly, 70, as he was on his way to a temple in Jhenaidah district
A Hindu priest in Bangladesh has been killed in what police suspect was the latest in a spate of attacks by Islamists on members of minority groups.
Ananta Gopal Ganguly, 70, was on his way to the temple he served in Jhenaidah district when he was attacked by three people riding on a motorcycle.
“They almost beheaded him,” said police official Hasan Hafizur Rahman of the attack, which bore the hallmarks of previous killings by Islamist militants.
On Monday, the government banned motorcyclists from carrying more than one passenger, after the wife of a prominent anti-terror security official was shot dead by three suspected militants on a motorbike on Sunday. In a separate incident on Sunday, assailants carrying machetes killed a Christian grocer.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing Ganguly, the US-based monitoring service Site said, quoting the militant group’s Amaq news agency.
Rahman dismissed the group’s claim as “baseless”, saying it had no organisational base in Bangladesh and domestic militants were responsible.
Isis also claimed responsibility for the attack on the 60-year-old Christian grocer.
Bangladesh has not experienced the sort of Islamist violence that has hit Pakistan, or even the number of attacks that India has seen over the past decade. But since February last year, militants in Bangladesh have killed more than 30 people, including members of religious minorities, liberal bloggers and academics.
Isis and al-Qaida have claimed responsibility for most of the killings, but the government denies either group has a presence in Bangladesh.
Last month, the junior foreign minister, Shahriar Alam, told Reuters Isis was trying to ride a wave of religious radicalisation by falsely claiming killings, and said there was enough evidence implicating domestic militant groups.
The government has launched a crackdown on militant groups seeking to impose strict Islamic law in Bangladesh. At least eight militants have been killed in shootouts since November, including three on Tuesday, police said.
Analysts say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of religious hate crimes.
Hindus and Christians make up about 10% of Bangladesh’s 160 million people.