Italian priest shot in northern Bangladesh

Third recent attack on foreigners comes amid dispute over Islamic State links
Italian priest shot in northern Bangladesh

Police investigate the scene where an Italian priest was shot in Dinajpur, in northern Bangladesh, on Nov. 18. The shooting came just weeks after two foreigners were killed in similar attacks blamed on hard-line Islamists. (Photo by AFP)

Assailants shot a Catholic priest in northern Bangladesh on Nov. 18, in the third recent attack on foreigners in this Muslim-majority country.

Father Parolari Piero, 64, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was shot several times by three attackers in Dinajpur town as he was riding a bicycle. He was treated at a local hospital following the attack.

Father Piero, a doctor, has lived and worked in Dinajpur for more than 30 years. Currently, he serves at church-run St. Vincent Hospital and is an assistant parish priest at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church.

"He was on his way to the hospital from his residence when unknown attackers shot him in the back," said Father Bidya Paul Bormon, a local priest who lives in the same town.

Local people rushed Father Piero to Dinajpur Medical College Hospital, where he underwent surgery. Doctors said he might be sent to the capital, Dhaka, for further treatment.

"He sustained injuries to the neck and head, but he is better now. It will take about two days to determine if he is out of danger or not," said Dr. Kanta Roy, vice principal at the hospital.

Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur condemned the attack.

"There are a good number of foreign missionaries working in Dinajpur and the government has been providing police security for them in the churches. Yet, this priest was shot and injured," said Bishop Tudu.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for Father Piero's shooting.

But the attack on the priest follows the murder of Italian aid worker Cesare Tabella on Sept. 28 in Dhaka, and the fatal shooting of a Japanese man on Oct. 3 in northern Rangpur district.

In both these cases, the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the killings, according to the U.K.-based Site Intelligence Group, which monitors global jihadist activities online. However, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan has dismissed the alleged Islamic State link to either killing.

Since then, a Bangladeshi Protestant pastor narrowly escaped death after three Islamic militants from banned local militant outfit Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh tried to slit his throat in Pabna district in northwestern Bangladesh on Oct 5.

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