Shyamananda Das, a Hindu temple worker, was hacked to death in western Bangladesh Friday, police reportedly said. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on secular and minority targets by suspected militants in the Muslim-majority country.
Das, who worked at the Radhamadan Gopal Bigraha Math in Jhenaidah district, was killed by three men on a motorcycle as he was walking to the temple early morning, police said, according to local reports. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killing of the 50-year-old man. However, police said that the pattern of killing was similar to that carried out in the past by local militants.
"They hacked him on his neck three times and there was one stabbing mark in his head," deputy police chief of the district Gopinath Kanjilal told AFP. "He died after he was brought to a hospital."
Local police chief inspector Hasan Hafizur Rahman told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Das was "a temple volunteer who helps conduct prayers."
"He was an itinerant temple volunteer who travels from one temple to another to serve the Hindu devotees. He came to this temple only yesterday," Rahman reportedly said. "He was attacked as he walked outside the temple to collect flowers for prayer services."
Last month, Hindu priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly, was also hacked to death in a rice paddy field in the same district near his home.
More than 40 people have been killed since January last year in a wave of attacks, targeting secular bloggers, academics and gay rights activists.
Police have arrested members of a banned group called the Ansarullah Bangla Team, which is connected to al Qaeda, over the murders of secular and atheist bloggers, but none have yet been prosecuted.
The group's actions are seen as a threat to free speech in the South Asian country and a form of retaliation against the 2013 protests that pushed for harsher punishments for former Islamist leaders who were convicted of war crimes.