Bangladesh Hindu priest beheaded 'by Islamic State'

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Relatives of a top Hindu priest react after he was killed in the remote northern district of Panchagarh (21 February 2016)Image source, AFP
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The murder of the priest triggered a surge of grief and shock among his friends and relatives in the remote northern district of Panchagarh

The so-called Islamic State group has said it was behind the beheading of a senior Hindu priest and wounding two worshippers in northern Bangladesh.

In a statement IS said that "caliphate soldiers" carried out the assaults using "light weapons".

The IS-linked Amaq "news agency" also reported the claim.

Jogeswar Roy, 45, was attacked by two assailants armed with pistols and cleavers at his home in the temple on Sunday, police say.

While the Bangladeshi government insists that IS is not active in the country, the jihadists in November said they carried out an attack on a Shia mosque in the north-western town of Bogra in which at least one person was killed.

The militant group also claimed an October grenade attack on a Shia shrine Dhaka, which killed one and injured 80 - although their claim was dismissed by the government.

IS has in addition said it was behind the murders of an Italian aid worker in September and a Japanese citizen in October.

'Blood-stained cleaver'

In the latest violence, police said that assailants on a motorbike attacked the priest in the remote northern district of Panchagarh with a sharp weapon, injuring two devotees who tried to help him.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
An attack on a Shia shrine in the capital Dhaka in October injured at least 80 people

"The priest was preparing for morning prayers when they pounced on him and decapitated him on the veranda of his home inside the temple," government administrator Shafiqul Islam told the AFP news agency.

"We recovered a blood-stained cleaver from the spot."

There have been a series of recent attacks on bloggers and religious minorities including Shias, Sufis, Christians and Ahmadis by hard line Islamist militant groups.

While attacks on foreigners remain rare, extremists have carried out a series of high-profile attacks on secular writers, hacking to death five bloggers - one a US citizen - in 2015.

Another militant Islamist group, the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is believed to be responsible for an assault on an Italian Catholic priest in the northern district of Dinajpur late last year.

Hindus comprise the Muslim-majority country's largest minority - about 10% of its 160 million population.