The dreaded Islamic State today claimed responsibility for executing a 65-year-old Christian pastor in Bangladesh, saying the murder was “a lesson to others”.
Hossain Ali, who converted to Christianity from Islam and working as a pastor at a church, was hacked to death by three motorbike-borne unidentified assailants in the northern Bangladeshi town of Kurigram yesterday morning.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring organisation, the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for killing Ali. In a statement posted on Twitter, IS said the murder was “a lesson to others”.
“A security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to kill the apostate (Ali), who changed his religion and became a preacher for the polytheist Christianity,” the statement said.
Ali’s murder came two months after another converted Christian was murdered in western Jhinaidah for which the Islamic State had claimed responsibility. Ali converted to Christianity 17 years ago and retired from government service last year.
“We are yet to know who killed him...a tenant in his house went into hiding creating suspicion that he could have been murdered for religious reasons or over family matters as we heard there were some disputes among the family members,” a police officer said yesterday, adding that a probe were ongoing.
A local source said Ali was a pastor at a church in the neighbourhood. After the Jhinaidah murder in January, the US-based SITE intelligence group said Islamic State had asserted that it killed the man because he converted from Islam.
Though the Islamic State has taken responsibility for a slew of murders, the Bangladesh government denies the terror group’s presence in Bangladesh and attributes the murders to the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). A number of their operatives of the group have been detained in recent months.
There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh over the past six months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers and foreigners that have killed at least nine persons including two foreigners and wounded more than 100.
Last week a top Shia preacher and homoeopathic doctor was stabbed to death in southwestern Bangladesh in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
A Hindu head priest was hacked to death on February 21 by gun-and-cleaver wielding Islamists at a temple in northern Panchagarh district’s Debiganj Upazila.
In September last year, Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was murdered by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, and within five days of that incident Japanese farmer Kunio Hoshi was killed. Both attacks were claimed by IS-affiliated militants.