By Stephan Uttom
The Sunni terror group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for killing a top Shia cleric in Bangladesh, the latest in a series of attacks on religious minorities.
Abdur Razzak, 48, a homeopath doctor and Shia preacher was hacked to death on his way home after work late on March 14 night in Jhenaidah district, west of the capital Dhaka.
Local media reported that Razzak was a former Sunni Muslim who became a Shia.
The IS has taken credit for the attack, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activities online. The claim could not be independently verified.
Police officials have yet to establish a motive for the murder or who was behind it, while the government denies an IS presence in the country.
“We don’t have any clue whether the murder was carried out by IS or other militant group or if he is a victim of some personal enmity. We are investigating all possible links,” Jhenaidah additional police superintendent Azhar Ali told ucanews.com.
Razzak’s wife Shahnaj Parvin claimed he had no “enemies.”
Shias are a minority in Sunni-majority Bangladesh and have come under attack by alleged Sunni militants on several occasions including a gun attack on a mosque that left several dead and dozens injured.
Militants have also allegedly targeted minority groups from other religions including Hindus and Christians, as well as atheist bloggers whose writings were deemed critical of religion and Islam.
Religious leaders said lack of progress in bringing the perpetrators of recent attacks to justice is spurring further violence against minorities.
“The government needs to be more aware about our security and ensure justice, so that we can live without fear of more attacks,” Mir Julfikar, president of the Husseni Welfare Association, a leading Shia organization, told ucanews.com.
“No country is safe from religious fanatics, although religious minorities are living in relative peace in this country. Sectarian attacks are recurring because true identity of attackers remain unknown,” said Father James Mondol of the Justice and Peace Commission in Khulna Diocese, which covers Jhenaidah.