Saturday 22 October 2016

Bangladesh pastor escapes knife attack at his home

Published 06/10/2015 | 07:36

Bangladeshi security officers at the site where Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi was shot dead (AP)
Bangladeshi security officers at the site where Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi was shot dead (AP)

A Bangladeshi pastor has survived a murder bid by three men who came to his home pretending to want to learn about Christianity, police and the victim have said.

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The incident follows fatal attacks on two foreigners last week in Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country which is grappling with violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for last week's attacks - one on a Japanese agricultural worker and the other on an Italian aid worker. The IS claim has been refuted by Bangladesh's government, which blamed the opposition for trying to destabilise the country.

In the latest attack, pastor Luke Sarker, 52, suffered minor injuries when three men aged 25-30 attacked him with a knife at his home in the north-western district of Pabna, said the area's senior police official, Siddikur Rahman.

Mr Sarker, the pastor of Faith Bible Church, said the men who attacked him had phoned him about two weeks ago saying they wanted to visit him to learn about Christianity.

After they arrived at his home on Monday, they suddenly attacked him with a knife and tried to slit his throat, Mr Sarker said. But as he shouted, his wife came to his rescue and the men fled. Police later recovered a motorbike from outside his home.

Mr Rahman said police had no clues yet about the identities of the three men but suspect they could be members of a fundamentalist group.

Meanwhile, police said they had questioned four people in connection with Saturday's attack on Japanese agricultural worker Kunio Hoshi, who was shot dead by unidentified assailants in northern Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has been struggling in recent months with a rise in violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups, banning several that have been blamed for killing four secular bloggers this year.

The Islamic State group issued a statement claiming responsibility for Saturday's attack, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi postings online. The report could not be independently confirmed.

IS also claimed responsibility for the killing of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, on September 28.

Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan refuted those claims. The government has blamed the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its key ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, for the attacks, accusing the groups of trying to destabilise the country. A spokesman for the BNP denied the charges.

Press Association

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