ISIS claims killing of `preacher` in Bangladesh

AFP| Updated: Mar 15, 2016, 14:37 PM IST

The Islamic State group said Tuesday it killed a Bangladeshi who was hacked to death this week, describing the victim as a top Shiite preacher -- a claim the country`s authorities reject.

Police confirmed that the man named in an IS statement, Abdul Razzaq, was killed on Monday night but rejected the IS claim of responsibility.

IS has claimed a series of killings in Bangladesh, but authorities deny that it has a presence there and instead blame local Islamist groups.

Police said the latest victim was a homeopathic medicine practitioner who owned a shop in the southwestern town of Kaliganj.

"Unidentified attackers hacked Abdur Razzaq, 45, to death with sharp weapons on Monday night after he shut down his shop and was heading back to his village," local police chief Anwar Hossain told AFP, giving a different spelling for the first name.

"We`re investigating the motive but it was not carried out by the IS."

IS said in a statement its fighters in Bangladesh "were able to assassinate the polytheist apostate Hafidh Abdul Razzaq, one of the top preachers for the Rafidha (Shiite) religion," according to US monitoring group SITE.

Bangladesh police said the victim was a Sunni Muslim.

But Ibrahim Khalil Rizvi, who heads a Shiite education centre in the southern city of Khulna, told AFP Razzaq had been following the Shiite form of the religion "for over 20 years".

In January the IS group claimed responsibility for the murder of an 85-year-old man in the same district.

The group said the murdered man, Samir al-Din, was a preacher who had converted to Christianity from Islam. His family and police said he had later switched back to Islam.

In recent months, the IS also said it was behind a series of attacks targeting foreigners and minorities including Shiite, Ahmadi and Sufi Muslims, Hindus and Christians in the Sunni-majority country.

Police have instead blamed the banned militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh for the upsurge in deadly violence.

Bangladesh has been plagued by unrest in the last three years. Experts say a long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government.