Bangladesh: Hindu Priest Killed in Suspected Militant Attack

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
2016.06.07
Dhaka
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Hindu-Priest-Murder620.jpg Relatives of slain Hindu priest Anand Gopal Ganguly mourn in Jhenaidah district, Bangladesh, June 7, 2016.
BenarNews

Islamic militants were suspected of killing a Hindu priest in southwestern Bangladesh on Tuesday – just two days after a police officer’s wife and a Christian shopkeeper were killed in attacks elsewhere in the country.

The machete-killing of the cleric from Bangladesh’s Hindu minority came as police killed three suspected members of the banned militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) during raids in Dhaka and northwestern Rajshahi district, officials said.

The two suspects who were killed in the Bangladeshi capital were involved in the April 23 machete-killing of a college professor in Rajshahi, and the third slain man was linked to a Dec. 25 suicide bombing at a mosque in the district belonging to the Ahmadiyya minority, police said. The bomber and three people were injured in that attack.

In Jhenaidah district, where the priest was hacked to death, police identified the victim as Anando Gopal Ganguly, 69.

“The nature of the killing was similar to previous hacking incidents in Jhenaidah and other parts of the country,” Azbahar Ali Shaikh, the additional superintendent of police in Jhenaidah district, told BenarNews.

“We are not sure whether militants are involved until the investigation is over. But they are suspects,” Shaikh said of Tuesday’s killing.

Ganguly’s killing brought to 12 the number of people slain across Bangladesh by suspected militants since early April, or who were killed in attacks where police have not ruled out a religious motive.

Since February 2013 at least 35 people – including secular writers, intellectuals, members of religious minority groups and gay rights activists – have been killed across the predominantly Sunni Muslim country, mostly in machete attacks by militants, the home ministry said.

On Sunday in Chittagong, suspected JMB members shot and hacked to death Mahmuda Aktar, the wife of a senior counterterrorist police officer who had taken down JMB dens in the southeastern port city, police said.

Later that day, Christian shopkeeper Sunil Gomez was killed in the northern district of Natore. Police in that district have not ruled out that Islamic militants may have killed him.

Details of killing

The Hindu priest was killed around 9:30 a.m., witnesses and police said.

Three motorcyclists struck Ganguly on the head with bamboo sticks as he rode his bicycle to a local temple.

“As he fell, they hacked him repeatedly,” said Shaikh, adding that a Christian convert in the same district, Samir Ali, was killed in a similar way in January. Shaikh said police had not identified Ali’s killers.

Ganguly had no enemies, Noldanga resident Abul Kashem told BenarNews.

“He used to make a living by worshiping. I cannot believe that an innocent person like him would die in such a way. People irrespective of faiths respected him,” Kashem said.

‘They shot at us’

Meanwhile at a news conference in Dhaka, the chief of the police’s counterterrorist and transnational crimes unit revealed details of Tuesday’s raids targeting the JMB.

Police launched the raids after receiving intelligence that JMB members were planning to enter the capital from the northern part of the country to conduct some type of “sabotage.”

“As we tried to capture, they shot at us. We counter fired, and two of them died in the crossfire,” Monirul Islam said of Tuesday’s operation in Dhaka.

Islam identified the slain suspects as Tareq Hossain Milu (alias Osman) and Sultan Mahmud. Both men were involved in the killing of A.F.M. Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor at Rajshahi University.

The third JMB operative who was killed by police in Rajshahi was identified as 25-year-old Jamal.

“He accompanied the suicide bomber, Tareq Aziz, during the attack on the Ahmadiyya mosque in Bagmara,” S.M. Abu Farhad, the officer-in-charge of the Godagari police station in Rajshahi, told BenarNews. Jamal had been hiding since the attack.

Acting on a tip, police tried to arrest Jamal in Godagari.

“As we proceeded, his accomplices shot at us to avoid arrest. He died during the gun fight between police and JMB members. The other members managed to flee,” he said.

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