3 people detained by Bangladesh over murder of Hindu tailor

DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh police detained three people on Sunday (May 1) over the gruesome murder of a Hindu tailor one day earlier, the latest deadly attack on minorities claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

A senior officer said the principal of an Islamic madrasah and two others were being held for questioning over the hacking to death of Mr Nikhil Chandra Joarder outside his shop in Tangail town, north-west of Dhaka.

Police suspect the 50-year-old Mr Joarder may have been targeted on Saturday for making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed four years ago, as Bangladesh reels from rising Islamist violence.

Tangail deputy police chief Aslam Khan said the three have been "taken into police custody for questioning" including a local leader of the country's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

"The madrassa principal filed a complaint against the deceased in 2012 for making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed," he told AFP.

The attack comes after two gay activists were hacked to death last week, attacks claimed by a Bangladeshi branch of Al-Qaeda, while a liberal professor was also killed days earlier.

Suspected Islamists have murdered at least 30 members of religious minorities, secular bloggers and other liberal activists, foreigners and intellectuals in Bangladesh in the past three years.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the latest attack, carried out by three unknown men who arrived on a motorbike.

It claimed Mr Joarder "was known for blaspheming Prophet Muhammed", the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency said, citing a source, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan rejected the claim of responsibility on Saturday, repeating the government's stance that the militant group, along with Al-Qaeda, have no known presence in Bangladesh.

The secular government and the police have instead blamed local banned militant groups for the attacks.

Four years ago, Mr Joarder was charged with hurting religious sentiments and he spent three weeks in jail, before the unknown complainant withdrew the case against him.

In February, suspected Islamists decapitated a top Hindu priest inside a temple complex in one of the country's northern districts, an attack also claimed by ISIS.

A long-running political crisis in officially secular Bangladesh has radicalised opponents of the government and analysts say Islamist extremists pose a growing danger.

Hindus, the country's largest religious minority, make up nearly 10 per cent of Bangladesh's 160 million population of mainly Sunni Muslims.