A Hindu man was hacked to death by unidentified assailants in Bangladesh on Saturday, the latest in a string of attacks on members of minorities, rights activists and secular bloggers.
The attackers, who were riding a motorcycle, targeted Nikhil Joarder, a 50-year-old tailor, at Dubail village of Tangail district, according to a report on the website of The Daily Star newspaper.
The Islamic State claimed the murder, saying Joarder was killed because he “blasphemed” the Prophet Mohammed, according to the SITE Intelligence Group that tracks jihadi organisations.
Police said they suspected that a “derogatory” comment about Prophet Mohammed allegedly made by Joarder in 2012 might be the reason for the attack. Abdul Jalil, the officer-in-charge of Gopalpur police station, said a case had been filed against Joarder for allegedly making a “derogatory” comment about the Prophet.
Joarder was sitting in his shop when two men drove up on a motorcycle at 12.30pm.
“They swooped on him with machetes and kept on stabbing him, confirming his death,” Aslam Khan, the additional superintendent of police of Tangail district, was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.
The attackers left a black bag, which contained three to four bomb-like objects, the report said. A bomb disposal unit was called in to defuse the devices.
There have been several assaults on minorities, intellectuals, academics, secular bloggers and foreigners in Bangladesh in recent months. On Monday, a USAID employee and gay rights activist Xulhaz Mannan was killed in Dhaka.
A Hindu head priest was hacked to death on February 21. In September last year, an Italian aid worker was killed by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, and a Japanese national was killed five days later.
Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the killings, but the government has said these groups have no presence in Bangladesh.
On Thursday, US secretary of state John Kerry called Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and asked her to step up law enforcement to prevent attacks targeting liberal voices.
The killings have added to fears that the moderate nation is under threat from Islamic extremists.
Kerry offered Hasina US support for the investigation into the killing of Xulhaz Mannan and his friend, Tonmoi Mahbub, a theatre actor.
The killings began in 2013 but have intensified in the past year.