Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has claimed responsibility for the killing of a Hindu monastery worker in northeastern Bangladesh, according to a monitoring service tracking armed groups’ online activity.
Friday’s attack on Nitya Ranjan Pandey, 60, in Pabna district was the third murder of a member of Bangladesh’s religious minorities that ISIL has taken responsibility for in the past week, reports the Al Jazeera.
SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring service, reported on Saturday that the claim was carried by ISIL’s Amaq news agency.
Hundreds of suspects have been held across Bangladesh after police launched a weeklong crackdown on armed groups after a wave of targeted killings.
A total of 1,800 people, including activists from the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist political party, have been arrested as part of the police operation, media reports say.
Several local drug dealers, drug users and other petty criminals were also arrested alongside “militants” during Friday’s police raids, Bangladeshi media reported citing police sources.
‘Pool of blood’
Pandey, a volunteer at the Shri Shri Thakur Anukulchandra Ashram in Pabna, was attacked while taking a walk early on Friday morning.
“He was found lying in a pool of blood,” Alamgir Kabir, Pabna district police chief, said, adding that no one saw the attackers.
Abdullah Al-Hasan, local police station chief, said: “As a diabetic, everyday he walks early in the morning. Today as he was walking, several attackers hacked him in the neck … He died on the spot.
Government’s perspective
The government denies either group has a presence in Bangladesh and says domestic groups are responsible.
Two groups in particular have been been identified by the authorities as leading the fight against secularism: Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team.
While both are considered possible suspects in the recent killings, neither has been alleged to have direct links to al-Qaeda and ISIL.
Last month, police announced 1.8 million taka ($23,000) in rewards for information leading to the arrest of six members of Ansarullah Bangla Team.
Five suspected members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh have been killed in shootouts in recent days.
The group had laid low since six of its leaders were hanged in 2007 for attacks that included 500 bomb explosions on a single day in 2005.
Subsequent suicide attacks on courts killed 25 people and wounded hundreds.
Latest killings
In the past week alone, besides Pandey, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian shopkeeper have been hacked to death – both of which ISIL claimed responsibility for – and the Muslim wife of a counterterrorism police official was also killed.
Mahmuda Khanom was stabbed and shot in the head by three unidentified men as she walked her son to a school bus stop near her home in the coastal city of Chittagong on Sunday.
She was the wife of Babul Akter, who has led several prominent operations against outlawed groups.
Shahidul Hoque, inspector-general of police, pledged in an address to a meeting of top police officials in Dhaka on Thursday that those involved in the killing of Khanom would be “brought to justice very soon”.