Unidentified assailants stabbed and shot dead the wife of a police officer, and hacked to death a Christian grocer in two separate attacks in Bangladesh on Sunday.
Mahmuda Khanam, wife of Babul Akter, a superintendent of police who had acted against radical Islamists, died on the spot in south-eastern city of Chittagong after three attackers hit her when she was waiting along with her son for the school bus near her home.
The young boy was separated by the assailants while his mother was killed.
The grocer, Sunil Gomes, was attacked inside his shop in the northwestern district of Natore, said Monirul Islam, officer-in-charge of the local police station at Barhaigram subdistrict .
Neighbours and family members rushed to the shop, which is near his home, and found him in a pool of blood. Doctors at a local hospital later declared him dead, Islam said.
Akter’s colleagues are not ruling out involvement of suspected Islamist militants in his wife’s killing, as he had led many raids against radical groups and helped recover arms and ammunition from their dens, which could have infuriated such groups, especially the banned Jamatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB).
“We have started our investigation and as part of that, we are collecting CCTV footage from nearby buildings and streets to find out the attackers,” Paritosh Ghosh, a senior police official at Chittagong Metropolitan Police, told reporters.
Ghosh said Akter had also acted very boldly against drug peddlers in the region, which is thought to be used as a route for drug trafficking in Bangladesh. Chittagong city has the country’s largest seaport.
No group has claimed responsibility for the killings so far. Many of the previous attacks on atheist bloggers, online activists, gay rights advocates and minority groups were claimed by groups reportedly tied to the Islamic State or Al Qaeda on the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS).
Minority groups in the Muslim-majority country say members of their communities and religious leaders received threats from suspected Islamist groups in Dhaka and outside.
Iqbal Bahar, commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, told reporters that they would not let any stones unturned and were looking at all possible angles to find the killers.
Police said the second incident took place within hours of the killing of Khanam.