Dhaka: The Islamic State yesterday claimed the brutal killing of a head priest in Bangladesh at a Hindu temple in an area bordering India, the first attack by the dreaded terror group targeting the community amid a series of similar assaults on religious minorities.
Relatives of the Hindu priest mourn his death in a remote northern district of Panchagarh. Pic/AFP
US-based private SITE Intelligence Group published the ISIS statement in Arabic after the killing of 50-year-old Jagneshwar Roy at Sonapota village yesterday in a pre-dawn attack in northern Panchagarh district’s Debiganj Upazila that also injured two Hindu devotees.
“In a security operation, soldiers of the Caliphate liquidated the priest - the founder and head of the Deviganj temple that belongs to the Hindus,” read the English translation of the IS statement. It added: “One of his companions was hurt after being targeted with light weapons in the area of Panchagar in Northern Bangladesh, and the Mujahideen returned to their positions unharmed.”
The SITE Intelligence Group said the ISIS claimed responsibility for killing Roy in a communique posted by the IS-linked Amaq News Agency on Twitter. The claim could not be independently verified.
Motorbike-borne assailants, said to be over three in number, pelted stones at the house of Roy in the premises of the Santagourhiyo Temple which prompted him to come out following which the killers pounced on him and slit his throat, according to a devotee in the neighbourhood.
A probe was launched in to the attack to nab the assassins who fled the scene on a motorbike, firing gunshots and hurling crude bombs to avoid being chased, injuring two including a neighbour who had rushed to the spot to save Roy.
His murder is the first attack on a Hindu priest and the fifth assault on minority religious communities including Shia Muslims and liberal Sufi preachers in the past six months by suspected Islamists.
However, a senior police officer overseeing the investigation questioned the authenticity of the ISIS claim.
A string of suicide bombings near a Shiite shrine outside Damascus and in Homs claimed by jihadists have killed more than 150 people, as Washington and Moscow worked to secure a ceasefire. US Secretary of State John Kerry said a provisional deal had been reached on the terms of a truce in Syria’s brutal five-year conflict, only for the bloodshed to intensify on the ground.