Wednesday 21 February 2018

Bangladesh rejects IS claim over Japanese man's death

Bangladeshi security officers at the site where Kunio Hoshi was killed (AP)
Bangladeshi security officers at the site where Kunio Hoshi was killed (AP)
Bangladeshi security officers at the site where Kunio Hoshi was killed (AP)

Bangladesh's government has rejected a claim by Islamic State that it was responsible for gunning down a foreigner in the South Asian country.

After assailants shot and killed Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi in northern Bangladesh on Saturday, IS issued a statement claiming responsibility for the 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 an Italian aid worker last week in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.

"Oh, it's absolutely rubbish, there is no IS in the country, no way," Bangladeshi home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said. "Why would IS do this here? These are incidents for creating instability in the country."

"The claims are fishy and we are examining," he said.

Mr Khan's view was echoed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who also dismissed the IS claims.

"Someone will post something online ... why should we accept that unless we prove that? We cannot accept that," she told reporters.

Following IS's claim of responsibility for the September 28 killing of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella, who was gunned down by motorbike-riding assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh's government said there was no evidence that the extremist group was involved and called it an "isolated incident".

Ms Hasina blamed the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its key ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, for the attacks, accusing the two groups of trying to destabilise the country.

She said the two killings were similar and that the same people were likely to be behind both of them.

"Our intelligence is working on that," Ms Hasina said, adding that her administration would "definitely" capture and try those behind the attacks.

Saturday's attack took place in Mahiganj village in the Rangpur district. Local residents reported that two assailants shot three times at Mr Hoshi, said Rezaul Karim, a police official. A third man waited for the pair on a motorbike, and the three then fled together on the bike.

Police have filed a murder case, accusing three unnamed people over the shooting, Karim said.

Karim said Mr Hoshi had started a grass farm in Rangpur, which is about 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of Dhaka. Japanese media reported that Mr Hoshi was 66.

An official from the Japanese foreign ministry's anti-terrorism department said in Tokyo that in light of IS's claim of responsibility, Japanese officials were investigating the incident as a possible terrorist attack.

The ministry issued a statement urging Japanese to use caution overseas, particularly in Bangladesh and other predominantly Muslim nations, "in order not to be embroiled in kidnappings, threats, terrorist attacks and other unanticipated events".

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 bloggers this year.

Press Association

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