DHAKA: A group of machete-wielding men attacked members of a Sufi Muslim sect in western Bangladesh injuring three people, police said on Sunday, the latest in a spate of attacks on religious minorities.
About eight men, armed with bamboo sticks and machetes, set upon the Sufis on Saturday night while they were asleep in a village in the border district of Chuadanga.
“Three members of the group were beaten by the attackers. They include a 50-year-old woman who had suffered grievous injury with a sharp weapon,” local police chief Humayun Kabir told AFP.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Bangladesh is reeling from a wave of murders of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities by suspected Islamist extremists.
Kabir said police suspect local hardline Muslims for the attack as the sect might have drawn the ire of the villagers due to their “unconventional and un-social” lifestyle.
“They are Muslim Fakirs, who don’t observe the daily Islamic prayer rituals. They sing devotional songs and have their own rituals,” local council chief Abdul Hannan told AFP, using another name for the sect.
In May a Sufi leader was hacked to death and earlier this month Bangladesh suffered a bloody terror attack when Islamist gunmen stormed a Dhaka cafe popular with foreigners and killed 20 people.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for that and several other attacks, but the Bangladesh government blames homegrown extremist groups.
Sufi Islam is a mystical form of Islam popular in rural Bangladesh but considered deviant by many of the country’s majority Sunni Muslims who denounce its followers as “infidels”.