By Rock Ronald Rozario
Two members of a banned Islamic militant group have been arrested and charged for the shooting of an Italian missionary priest and the bombing of a Hindu temple in Bangladesh last year.
Muhammad Sarwar and Abdur Rahman, alleged members of the Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh, were arrested Jan. 4 and appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court in Dinajpur two days later, a police official said.
“Abdur Rahman has confessed his involvement in the temple bombing before the court,” Redwanur Rahim, Dinajpur police spokesman, told ucanews.com.
Rahim said he expects more arrests in the cases will be forthcoming.
On Nov. 18, three attackers shot Italian Father Parolari Piero, 64, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, on the outskirts of Dinajpur town.
Father Peiro, a doctor, worked in Bangladesh for more than three decades. He was flown to the capital Dhaka the same day and then to Italy on Nov. 30 for treatment and recovery.
Initially, the group that calls itself the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the shooting. However, the government and police officials pointed finger at local militants.
Father Silas Kujur, parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church in Dinajpur, filed a case against unknown attackers on behalf of the diocese Nov. 18.
Since the attack on Father Piero, more than three dozen priests, two bishops, protestant ministers and Christian aid workers have received death threats from alleged Islamic militants through mail, phone calls and text messages.
On Dec. 10, about nine people were hurt when 15 armed attackers detonated four crude bombs and opened fire on worshippers at a Hindu temple in Kaharul.
Police arrested two alleged militants, Shariful Islam and Muhammad Musabbir, the following day for the attack after local villagers captured them with firearms.
On Dec. 17, Islam confessed to police that beside the temple attack, he also masterminded and personally carried out the attack on Father Piero.
Meanwhile, foreign missionaries in Dinajpur continue to live under police protection in fear of further attacks.
“We have a good number of foreign priests in the diocese and they have been forced to live in confinement since the attack on Father Piero. They are well protected, but church activities are hampered over security fears,” Father Anthony Sen, secretary of Justice Commission in Dinajpur, diocese told ucanews.com.
“The police probe is slow and the masterminds behind the attacks have not been identified yet. Still, we wait and hope that justice will prevail and all minorities including Christians can live in peace in the country,” added Father Sen.