A second suspect was arrested Friday in connection with an attack by gunmen on a Hindu temple in northern Bangladesh late Thursday, in which two people were injured.
Thursday night’s attack followed a series of recent violent acts targeting practitioners or clergy of other religions that are underrepresented in majority Muslim Bangladesh.
Three assailants sprayed gunfire and hurled home-made bombs at the temple in Dinajpur district, which is known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), as Hindu worshippers listened to a sermon, witness Sheel Prashad told BenarNews.
The attack was the second in five days in Dinajpur that targeted members of Bangladesh’s small Hindu minority. At least 10 people were hurt in an attack at the Kantajir temple on Dec. 5, when it was celebrating an annual fair, news reports said.
On Friday, residents of Dinajpur apprehended a second suspect in the latest attack and handed him over to local police. Residents also helped arrest a first suspect the night before.
The second suspect, identified by police as Mozammel, was caught by a group of locals, including a man, Rafiqul Islam, who was shot as he tried to catch the fleeing suspect after confronting him, according to media reports.
“He immediately pointed the gun on my chest. Then I screamed for help. He fired at me as I attempted to flee. The local people rushed and we caught him,” Rafiqul, who was shot in the leg and was recovering at the Dinajpur medical college hospital, told reporters.
Local people suspected Mozammel because he spoke a different dialect, witness Matiur Rahman said.
“We can distinguish between a local people and an outsider. The local people do not carry out such heinous attacks. If we remain vigilant, heinous attacks of the militants like that happened in Kaharol (ISKCON temple attack) will not be repeated,” Rahman told BenarNews.
Dinajpur Police superintendent Ruhul Amin said Mozammel was being questioned to determine whether he had been a member of the banned militant Islamist group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
The first suspect, Shariful Islam, who was taken into custody on Thursday night after a group of locals caught him, has been handed over to the police department’s detective branch, Amin said Friday, according to local media reports.
‘What do you do?’
Meanwhile, scores of people rallied in front of the National Press Club on Friday to protest against the attacks on Hindu temples in Dinajpur.
In Dhaka, Suranjit Sengupta, a former minister, criticized law enforcement agencies for not “doing enough” to protect religious minorities in Dinajpur.
“There was no police near the ISKCON temple, though the Kantaji temple came under attack less than a week ago. What do you [the police] do?,” Sengupta told a meeting in Dhaka, according to reports.
Dinajpur was also the site of an attack last month in which gunmen on a motorbike shot and wounded an Italian priest. On Oct. 5 in northwestern Pabna district, a Christian pastor was attacked with a knife by a group of men at his home, but survived.
Minority Shiite Muslims have also been targeted in apparent attacks by Islamists. In late November, the imam of a Shiite mosque in northern Bogra district was killed when gunmen burst into the building. In October, two people were killed when a Shiite religious procession was bombed in Dhaka.