Suspected Islamist militants slit the throat of a Hindu priest conducting morning prayers at a temple in Bangladesh and fled after firing shots and exploding crude bombs injuring two devotees, police said.
According to police, three criminals came on motorcycles and attacked Jogeshwar Dasadhikari, 50, a bachelor, as he was organizing prayers at the Debiganj temple near Panchagar, 494 km (308 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka.
“We suspect they (attackers) might be members of the banned Islamist militant group Jamaatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB),” police official Humayun Kabir said.
However, SITE, an intelligence group, said Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s killing.
Debiganj Police have arrested Khalilur Rahman in connection with the killing.
The incident happened at Sri Sri Shonto Gaurio temple of Shonapota around 6:30 am.
Locals said the criminals first threw stones at the temple roof to draw the priest’s attention. When Jogeshwar came out of the shrine to check what was happening, they stabbed him. As the priest, screaming for help, started running toward a home behind the temple, they slit his throat.
One devotee Gopal Chandra Roy, 35, who lives in the temple, said he was singing devotional songs when he heard Jogeswar’s screams. As he came out to help him, one of the gang members started firing at him. Roy was hit in the arm but he escaped by scaling a wall.
Hearing the gunshots, another devotee Nitai Das, 40, came running into the temple compound. The attackers threw crude bombs at him and fled.
Roy and Das are being treated for injuries at different hospitals. Doctors said their injuries are not life-threatening.
The priest’s elder brother Rabindranath Roy said Jogeswar had been living in the temple for years and he had no enemies.
In October 2015, a pastor survived an attempt on his life by three men who came to his home pretending to want to learn about Christianity.
Luke Sarker, 52, suffered minor injuries when three men aged 25-30 attacked him with a knife at his home in the northwestern district of Pabna.
Sarker, the pastor of Faith Bible Church, said after they arrived at his home on Oct. 5, the men suddenly attacked him with a knife and tried to slit his throat. But as he shouted, his wife came to his rescue and the men fled. Police later recovered a motorbike from outside his home.
A week before that, two foreigners were fatally attacked. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both the attacks — one on a Japanese agricultural worker and the other on an Italian aid worker.