Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the killing of a university professor in northwest Bangladesh yesterday, heightening concerns about the rise of radicalism in the South Asian country.
Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor at the University of Rajshahi, was attacked yesterday morning as he waited for a bus near his home in the town of Rajshahi. Police said two men on a motorcycle struck Mr Siddique, 58, with machetes and left him bleeding on the ground, reports The Australian.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of Professor Siddique through its news agency, Amaq, said the SITE intelligence group, which monitors the activity of extremist groups.
Islamic State said in a statement that its fighters had killed the professor because he was “calling to atheism,” SITE said.
The method used by the assailants was similar to recent attacks on secular and atheist bloggers around the country, said Muhammad Shamsuddin, commissioner of police in Rajshahi.
Four bloggers and activists were killed with machetes in Bangladesh last year, and Nazimuddin Samad, a student activist who helped organise protests against Islamists, was murdered in the capital, Dhaka, this month.
Most of the attacks on bloggers have been claimed by Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh, also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team, a banned militant group with links to al-Qa’ida and Islamic State.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for several other deadly attacks on foreigners and religious minorities last year.
Mr Siddique, whom students described as an inoffensive man who loved music and art, wasn’t involved in activism. His family said he didn’t have any enemies.
He is the third professor at the University of Rajshahi to be killed in the past 12 years. Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility for the killing of a sociology professor in 2014, although police said he had been killed by personal enemies, while two activists from extremist Islamist group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, or JMB, were sentenced to life in prison for the killing of an economics professor in 2004.
Rajshahi was once known as a stronghold of JMB, which detonated a series of bombs across the country in 2005. Police officials said the group was severely weakened after its leaders were arrested and hanged in 2007.
In recent months, however, JMB has been undergoing a resurgence, according to security analysts in Dhaka, staging several high-profile attacks on Christian and Hindu priests and Shia Muslim shrines.
In a recent issue of its propaganda magazine, Dabiq, Islamic State endorsed the JMB and lauded its role “in the revival of jihad in Bengal.”
The Bangladeshi government has denied that militant groups linked to international terrorist networks are operating in Bangladesh.