The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the hacking death of a Hindu priest during an attack on a temple in Bangladesh Sunday. Despite claims from ISIS, police reportedly said that they suspect a local militant group to be behind the attack.
Jogeshwar Roy, 55, who was organizing prayers at the Deviganj temple near Panchagarh, about 300 miles north of the capital Dhaka, was attacked by five or six men Sunday, Reuters reported, citing police. The attackers stabbed Roy to death and also reportedly shot and wounded a devotee who tried to save the priest. Panchagarh district police Chief Giasuddin Ahmed said that police had recently received several anonymous threats following which they ramped up security in Hindu temples and centers in the district.
“In a security operation facilitated by the almighty God, soldiers of the Caliphate liquidated the priest Jogeshwar Roy, the founder and the head of the Deviganj temple that belongs to the infidel Hindus,” ISIS said in a statement in Arabic, issued through the Telegram messaging app and Twitter, according to Reuters. “One of his companions was hurt after being targeted with light weapons in the area of Panchagar in Northern Bangladesh, and the Mujahideen returned to their positions unharmed, and all praise be to God.”
Ahmed said that the attackers approached on a motorcycle and began firing bullets at the temple, before slitting the priest's throat and fleeing, CNN reported.
Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the Bangladesh Police, reportedly said that the outlawed Islamic organization Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh is suspected to be behind the attack.
"This group is responsible for most of the attacks on Shiite mosques, Hindu temples, churches and religious leaders across Bangladesh since October," Islam reportedly said.
Police have so far arrested four people who are members of the local militant group, police official Humayun Kabir reportedly said, rejecting the claim by ISIS.
In recent months, Bangladesh has witnessed several attacks, including those on mosques and Hindu temples. Some of the attacks have been claimed by ISIS, but the government denies that the militant group, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, has a presence in the country of 160 million people.
The killing of the Hindu priest is the latest attack on minority religious figures and institutions in the Muslim-majority country in recent months.
In October, a Christian pastor was attacked in the country's northwest, and in November, an Italian Catholic priest was attacked. Both men survived the attacks.
In November, a Shiite mosque was attacked in Bogra in northern Bangladesh, leaving one dead and three injured. The attack was claimed by ISIS.
Bangladesh has also experienced the killings of six independent writers since 2013.