Catholic bishops condemn second attack in just over a month
Bangladeshi police personnel stand guard in front of a Shia mosque in Dhaka on Nov. 27, a day after one man was killed when gunmen opened fire at a Shia mosque in northern Bangladesh. (Photo by Munir uz Zaman/AFP)
At least one person was killed and three wounded when gunmen opened fire on a Shia mosque in northern Bangladesh on Nov. 26.
It was the second deadly attack on Bangladesh's minority Shia community in just over a month.
Five gunmen entered the Al Mustafa mosque in Bogra district while about 20 worshippers were at evening prayer. They opened fire after locking the main gate, local media reported, quoting eyewitnesses.
The Bangladesh Imamia Welfare Foundation, a local Islamic charity that receives funding from Shia-majority Iran, runs the mosque.
"We don't know the identity of the attackers who fled after the shooting. Security has been beefed up in the area and the situation is calm now," Bogra police chief Mohammad Asaduzzaman said.
Two people were detained in connection with the attack and were being questioned, he said, without giving further details.
The so-called Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activities online.
The attack in Bogra follows an Oct. 24 grenade attack on a Shia gathering in Dhaka, which left two dead and dozens injured.
The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Shia community has been living in fear since last month's attack, a Shia leader said Nov. 27.
"We feared last month's attack might be repeated and our fears have come true. Surely, there is an international conspiracy behind these attacks," said Habib Reza, an official from Hussaini Dalan, the main Shia shrine in Dhaka and the scene of last month's bombing.
"The government must ensure security for all minorities including Shias and find out and punish the attackers strictly," he said.
"Those who carried out these attacks are animals in human disguise, far away from human values. They are terrorists using Islam and they must be stopped."
The Catholic Church condemned the Nov. 26 attacks.
"This is not right. No one can accept violence in the name of religion," said Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, whose diocese covers Bogra district.
Once considered a moderate Muslim-majority nation, Bangladesh has seen a rise in religious violence in recent times.
Four secular bloggers and a publisher were murdered and three more injured in machete attacks by alleged Islamic extremists this year.
Meanwhile, an Italian aid worker and a Japanese man were shot dead, while a Protestant pastor and an Italian Catholic priest narrowly escaped death, also this year.
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attacks on the bloggers, while the Islamic State group has taken credit for the attacks on foreigners.
The Bangladeshi government has repeatedly denied the presence of international terrorist groups and has linked the attacks to local militant outfits allegedly affiliated with opposition parties.
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