Sydney, Australia (BBN)-Islamic State has vowed to attack more foreigners in Bangladesh after the assassination of a Japanese man only two days after Cricket Australia postponed Australia’s tour of the south Asian country.
The threat came as Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it had obtained “reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian and Western interests in Bangladesh”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The killing of 50-year-old Kunio Hoshi in northern Bangladesh by two masked men has fuelled fears among foreigners working for hundreds of non-government organisations in the impoverished country, often in rural areas.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing on its official Twitter account.
Two men standing on a road fired on Hoshi as he rode past on a rickshaw in Rangpur, 300 kilometres north of the capital, Dhaka, on Saturday.
Witnesses said the killers fled on a motorcycle ridden by a third man.
In a Twitter posting the same day, Islamic State warned “there will continue to be a series of ongoing security operations against nationals of crusader coalition countries . . . they will not have safety of a livelihood in Muslim lands”.
The attack on Hoshi, who had started a farm in the area, came only five days after Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella, 50, was shot dead as he jogged in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter.
Cricket Australia announced the postponement of the tour last Thursday after Western countries, including Australia, had warned of potential threats to foreigners in one of the world’s largest Muslim nations.
Intelligence agencies are believed to have picked up terrorist chatter about targeting Australians in Bangladesh.
A Glitter Ball organised by Australian and New Zealand expatriates to be attended by 500 people last Friday was cancelled.
Australia’s travel advisory on Sunday advised Australians in Dhaka to only travel by vehicle and to limit movements in public places, including locations frequented by foreigners.
“You should exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh,” it warned.
The United States had prohibited personnel from attending “large gatherings” or travelling “on foot, motorcycle, bicycle, rickshaw or other uncovered means on all public thoroughfares and sidewalks”.
British authorities warned their officials to “limit attendance at events where Westerners may gather”.
Similar advice was believed to have been circulated among staff of other foreign missions.
Attacks on foreigners have been rare in the majority-Muslim country of 161 million with entrenched secular traditions, effective security forces and widespread suspicion of imported forms of Islam.
The governing party, the Awami League, is adamantly secular.
However, security analysts said terrorist organisations like Islamic State and al-Qaeda had inspired and funded a series of violent incidents in the country, including the killing of five bloggers whose social media posts were critical of Islam.
One of the bloggers had his throat slit last month while the others were hacked to death, surrounded by young men.
Twelve suspected al-Qaeda members were arrested in Dhaka in July. One of them is the alleged organisation chief on the Indian subcontinent.
Police had also been targeting social networking sites linked to the terror groups.