Italian priest attacked by 3 gunmen on bike in Bangladesh

(From AP)

Three men fired shots at an Italian priest Wednesday as he rode his bicycle to church in northern Bangladesh, sending him to a hospital with head injuries amid a surge in militant violence this year.

Members of Bangladesh's Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) inspect the site where an Italian priest was attacked at Dinajpur Wednesday

Members of Bangladesh’s Police Bureau of Investigation inspect the site where the Italian priest was attacked Wednesday

The three assailants were on a motorbike when they attacked the priest in the town of Dinajpur, 415 kilometers (260 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka, police officer Abul Hasan said. They fled after the attack.

Piero Arolari, 57, suffered bullet wounds to his head but is out of danger, said Zillur Rahman, a doctor treating him at the hospital.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Arolari had been working as a doctor at a missionary hospital in Dinajpur where he has lived for 35 years, treating poor people from the area, said local police chief Ruhul Amin.

Local media reported that the assailants attacked him from behind near a bus stop. As he fell to the ground, residents rushed to his rescue and took him to a hospital.

Bangladesh has been rocked by a series of attacks this year claimed by Islamic extremists, including the killings of bloggers and, more recently, of two foreigners — an Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural worker.

An Oct. 24, bomb attack on thousands of Shiite Muslims in Dhaka killed a teenage boy and injured more than 100 others.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the two earlier attacks on foreigners, but the government said the extremist Sunni militant group does not have a presence in the country.

The government accuses domestic Islamist militants along with Islamist political parties — specifically the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its main ally, Jamaat-e-Islami — of orchestrating the violence in an effort to destabilize the fractious nation.

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