Dhaka: A 70-year-old Hindu priest was today hacked to death in Bangladesh by three suspected Islamic State jihadists who nearly severed his head, the second priest from the community to be killed this year in the Muslim-majority nation which has seen a string of brutal attacks by Islamists on minorities and secular activists.
Ananda Gopal Ganguly was attacked at around 9:30 AM by three bike-borne men who slit his throat with sharp-edged weapons in the western Jhinaigah district’s Noldanga village, Assistant Superintendent of Police Gopinath Kanjilal said, adding that suspected militants carried out the murder.
“As it appears Ganguly was killed by the militants as it matches the pattern they followed previously,” Jhinaidah’s police chief Altaf Hossain told PTI.
“He was an old ordinary man who was known little beyond the neighbourhood and we found no clue as well that he had enmity with anyone… the circumstances led us to point our figure to militants as we launched the investigation initially,” he said.
Police said they have recovered the body and sent it for an autopsy. An investigation was launched into the incident.
The near-decapitated body of the priest was discovered by farmers at a farmland near his home.
Meanwhile, IS claimed responsibility for the killing of the Hindu priest. The terror group said it “assassinated” the priest while he was going for prayers, the SITE monitoring group quoted the terror group’s Amaq news agency.
Ganguly, who was a priest at the Noldanga temple in Sadar upazila, was on his way to the temple riding a bicycle to offer prayers when the unidentified assailants struck. They first shot him and then hacked him to death to make sure that he was dead.
Launching a massive crackdown on extremists after a spate of attacks, Bangladesh police today gunned down three suspected Islamists.
The three were operatives of the outlawed Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) outfit which was targeted by Superintendent of Police Babul Aktar whose wife was brutally killed by the militants on Sunday.
There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.
On Sunday, a Christian businessman was hacked to death by unidentified machete-wielding men near a church, hours after the wife of a top anti-terror police officer was shot dead by religious extremists.
In February, militants stabbed to death a Hindu priest at a temple in Bangladesh and shot and wounded a devotee who went to his aid.
In the same month, a Hindu tailor was also killed by IS militants in his shop while Bangladesh’s first gay magazine editor was brutally murdered along with a friend in his flat in Dhaka by Islamists.
Bangladeshi authorities have been coming under mounting international pressure to end the string of attacks on religious minorities and secular activists that have left more than 40 people dead in the last three years.
The IS and al-Qaeda in Indian Peninsula have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks although the government denies their presence in Bangladesh and has blamed homegrown Islamists for the killings.