crackdown on islamists as another hindu is murdered
BANGLADESH police on Tuesday (7) launched a deadly crackdown on Islamist militants as a 70-year- old Hindu priest became the latest victim in a series of gruesome killings by suspected jihadists.
As a government minister tried to portray the recent attacks as part of a conspiracy involving Israel’s Mossad spy agency, security forces waged deadly gunbattles with members of a homegrown jihadist group.
Two “high ranking” members of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were shot dead in a battle in Dhaka and another was killed in a northwestern district, police said.
The two JMB members killed in the capital had roles “in most of the recent attacks” including the bomb- ing of a Shiite mosque and the mur- der of a liberal professor, said deputy commissioner of police MR Khaled
The third victim was killed in another gunfight in the town of Godagari in the northwestern district of Rajshahi, said local police chief Abu Forhad
Bangladeshi authorities have been coming under mounting international pressure to end the string of at- tacks on religious minorities and secular activists that have left more than 40 people dead in the last three years.
Authorities have blamed homegrown Islamists for the attacks, which have surged in recent weeks, rejecting claims of responsibility from the Islamic State (IS) group and a South Asia branch of Al-Qaeda.
IS claimed the latest victim, Hindu priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly, whose head was nearly severed. The group, through its Amaq news agency, said it “assassinated” the priest, according to the SITE monitoring group, as he was walking to prayers.
Farmers discovered Ganguly’s body in a rice field near his home in the village of Noldanga in the western district of Jhenidah.
Investigators said the murder bore the hallmarks of recent attacks by local Islamist extremists who have carried out 10 other similar killings in the last 10 weeks.
Witnesses saw three unidentified men on a motorcycle attack him with a bamboo stick before “they slit his throat”, the district’s deputy police chief Gopinath Kanjilal said.
“He left home this morning saying that he was going to a Hindu house to offer prayers,” Kanjilal said. “Later, farmers found his near decapitated body in a rice field.”
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan linked the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to the attacks.
“These killings are part of a national and international conspiracy. Those who are carrying out these incidents are communicating with Mossad,” Khan said. (AFP).