Stephan Uttom and Rock Ronald Rozario, Dhaka
Updated: October 06, 2015 12:29 AM GMT
Bangladeshi police examine the scene in Rangpur where Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi was murdered Oct. 3 (Photo by Hasan Raja)
Gunmen killed a second foreign national in Bangladesh in less than a week, stoking fears about a rise in Islamic militancy and for other foreigners staying in the Muslim-majority nation.
Kunio Hoshi, 66, a Japanese citizen, was shot dead on Oct. 3 by two gunmen in a village in the Kaunia area of northwestern Rangpur district, about 300 kilometers north of Dhaka.
Hosshi had been living in Bangladesh since 2011 and cultivated hybrid grass in Rangpur.
"This is a very sensitive case because international interests are involved here. We are looking at all possible leads in the killing," Abdus Salam, additional superintendent of police in Rangpur, told ucanews.com.
The militant Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for Hoshi's killing, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a UK-based orginization, which monitors jihadist activities online.
The claim couldn't be independently verified.
"A security detachment killed Hoshi after tracking him…. Security operations against citizens of crusader states will remain ongoing," the jihadist group said in the statement, according to SITE.
The murder follows the Sept. 28 killing of Italian aid worker Cesare Tabella, 50, in the Gulshan diplomatic zone in Dhaka. The Islamic State also claimed responsibility for that murder.
After the Tabella shooting, several Western embassies including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia issued warnings of further extremist violence and asked their citizens in Bangladesh to remain vigilant.
Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan dismissed the Islamic State link to the two killings.
"There is no IS activity in Bangladesh as far as we are concerned. The killings are isolated incidents and are meant to damage Bangladesh's relations with two friendly countries," Khan told reporters in Dhaka on Oct. 4.
"Those behind the murders, are trying to destroy Bangladesh's achievements and destabilize the country," he said.
Church officials say the situation is extremely worrying and called for the killers to be brought to justice justice.
"We are worried and condemn the killings. Like everyone we are also confused about the identity and motives of the killers. IS or not, they must be brought to justice and be punished," Father Jyoti F. Costa, secretary of the Catholic bishops' conference said.
Father Costa said the bishops have not yet issued any warning to foreign missionaries working in Bangladesh about their security.
"Foreign missioners are already alert because they are already anxious about their safety," Father Costa said.
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