ISIS claims responsibility for killing of Hindu, the third attack in a week on minorities in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi police stand guard near where Hindu monastery worker Nitya Ranjan Pandey was hacked to death in Pabna, on June 10, 2016.
Bangladeshi police stand guard near where Hindu monastery worker Nitya Ranjan Pandey was hacked to death in Pabna, on June 10, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (Reuters) - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the killing of a Hindu monastery worker who was stabbed to death in Bangladesh, a monitoring service tracking militant online activity reported a day after the slaying.

It was the third killing of a member of religious minorities in the mostly Muslim country that the group has taken responsibility for in the past week.

The claim was carried by ISIS' Amaq news agency, Site Intelligence Group, a United States-based monitoring service, reported on Saturday (June 11).

 
 

Police said unidentified assailants attacked Mr Nitya Ranjan Pandey, 60, while he was walking in the north-western district of Pabna early on Friday morning. "He was found lying in a pool of blood," district police chief Alamgir Kabir said, adding that no one saw the attackers.

Hundreds of suspects have been held across the country after the police launched a week-long crackdown on militants after a wave of gruesome killings.

In the past week alone, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian shopkeeper were hacked to death - both of which ISIS claimed responsibility for - and the Muslim wife of a counter-terrorism police official was also killed.

Militants have killed more than 30 people in Bangladesh, including members of religious minorities, liberal bloggers and academics, since February last year.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for 21 of the attacks since its first claim in September last year and Al-Qaeda has claimed most of the rest, according to SITE.

The government denies either group has a presence in Bangladesh and says domestic militants are responsible.

Five suspected members of the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen were killed in shootouts after the woman was stabbed and shot dead on Sunday.

Last month, the police announced 1.8 million taka in rewards for information leading to the arrest of six militants of Ansarullah Bangla Team, another outlawed group they believe is behind the violence.

Analysts say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of religious hate crimes.

The government blames the growing violence on political opponents linked to Islamist parties, that it accuses of seeking to create chaos and prevent courts from going ahead with war crimes trials related to the 1971 war of independence.

The opposition party denies the accusations.

Hindus and Christians make up about 10 per cent of Bangladesh's 160 million population.