By Mainul Islam Khan
DHAKA (AA) – Bangladesh this week witnessed a fresh rash of murders in different parts of the country, the latest of which occurred Tuesday when a Hindu priest was killed by unidentified attackers in the country’s southwest.
In subsequent comments to the media, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appeared to suggest that the murders were linked to certain political parties.
On Tuesday, Azbahar Ali Sheikh, a local police official in the southwestern town of Jhenaidah, told reporters that Anando Gopal Ganguly, 69, had been killed by machete-wielding attackers some two kilometers from his home.
The victim had sustained fatal injuries to his head and neck, Sheikh said, adding that police had yet to determine the motive behind the grisly murder.
According to the official, Ganguly had been on his way to a nearby Hindu temple by bicycle when the attack occurred.
The slain priest’s body was cremated on Tuesday evening.
Notably, Ganguly’s murder followed two separate -- but similar -- incidents the previous day in different parts of the country.
In Chittagong, a coastal city in southeastern Bangladesh, Mahmuda Khanam Mitu -- the wife of a senior police officer -- was killed by several attackers on Monday as she took her eight-year-old son to school.
According to CCTV footage recovered by police, the assailants, who later fled the scene by motorbike, took less than a minute to kill the victim.
On the same day in Bangladesh’s northern Natore District, a Christian man -- identified as Sunil Gomes, 60 -- was killed in his shop, also by machete-wielding attackers.
Since last year, Bangladesh has been plagued by a series of suspected militant attacks that have targeted secular-leaning bloggers, members of religious minorities and rights activists.
According to Bangladeshi daily Prothom Alo, at least 47 people have been killed in 45 such attacks within the last two years.
Local media, citing the SITE Intelligence Group (a U.S.-based organization run by Israeli analyst Rita Katz), has reported that responsibility for most such attacks has been claimed by either the Daesh terrorist group or Al-Qaeda.
Last month, the Bangladeshi government issued a "red alert" for six militants suspected of involvement in the recent murder of bloggers and secular activists.
Early Tuesday, two of the suspects were killed in a shootout with police in the capital, according to Masudur Rahman, a Dhaka police official.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, speaking to reporters on Wednesday upon her return from an official trip to Saudi Arabia, alleged that those behind the recent murders were linked to two political parties.
"These aren’t baseless claims," she said. "I am the head of the government. Of course I have all the information."