Bangladesh: IS Claims Responsibility for Killing 85-year-old Christian

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
160107-BD-christian-death-620 Bangladesh police are investigating the stabbing death of a convert to Christianity, while government officials are downplaying Islamic State claims of responsibility.

After Thursday’s killing of a Christian homeopathic doctor in southwestern Bangladesh, the country’s home minister vowed to go after people attacking members of religious minorities.

“We have been providing maximum protection to all minorities. We will do whatever necessary to crush the militants in Bangladesh,” Home Minister  Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews.

“The people of Bangladesh are pious but they are not radicals. So, the militants will get no space in Bangladesh,” he added.

The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for stabbing to death 85-year-old Samir al-Din, a convert to Christianity, in Jhenaidah district, according to SITE Intelligence, a U.S-based group that monitors online communications and social media traffic among Islamic militants.

“The soldiers of the caliphate were able to eliminate the apostate, named ‘Samir al-Din’ by stabbing him with a knife,” SITE quoted IS as saying.

But as he did in the aftermath of other recent attacks targeting foreigners and members of religious minorities, the home minister again rejected the claim that IS was responsible for the latest attack.

Police in Jhenaidah, meanwhile, said they were investigating al-Din’s killing.

Mohammad Azbahar Ali Shaikh, an additional superintendent of police in the district, told BenarNews on Friday that al-Din was stabbed in the chest between 12:30 and 2 p.m. on Thursday inside his shop in Jhenaidah, about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of Dhaka.

Shaikh said a patient went to his shop for medicine but no one responded.

"Everybody thought he may have had died of heart attack. As he was placed him on the khatiya, people saw blood on his chest. His right hand bore a mark of injury," Shaikh said. A khatiya is a coffin-like open cradle in which dead bodies are carried.

Converted in 2001

“The local church has shown us papers confirming his conversion to Christianity in 2001. But family members have told us that he used to offer prayers as a Muslim,” Shaikh said, adding that al-Din had previously been a disciple of a Chisti Pir – or Islamic instructor - in Panchagarh, a district in northern Bangladesh.

The perpetrators were able to attack him and not be noticed because neighbors were watching a horse race on Thursday.

“We do not know that he was killed for his faith; we suspect that a feud over land and money could have led to his death. Usually, militants slit the throat,” Shaikh said. “He was stabbed in the chest as the criminals do.”

Patient Abdul Alim, 55, told BenarNews that al-Din was friendly.

“This is a mystery why a friendly and elderly person like him as killed,” Alim said.

Nirmal Rozario, the general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, on Friday told BenarNews that he might have been killed for his belief.

“We strongly condemn such attacks,” he said, pointing out that the government had assured protection of all minorities in Bangladesh.

A Muslim-majority South Asian country of 160 million people, Bangladesh used to boast for religious harmony and tolerance for minority Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Shiites and other faiths.

But minorities, secular bloggers and the foreigners have become the targets of the suspected Islamic militants since Sept. 28, 2015, when three motorcyclists shot and killed Italian aid worker Tavella Cesare in Dhaka. Less than a week later, Japanese national Kunio Hoshi was killed in Rangpur city in similar fashion.

Since then Christian leaders have been attacked as have secular writers and publishers. Even on-duty police personnel were hacked to death. The militants’ trademark machetes and knives were used in most of the attacks.


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