Hindu tailor hacked to death in Bangladesh: police

At least two unknown assailants hacked a Hindu tailor to death in central Bangladesh Saturday, police said, amid a rise in attacks on religious minorities by extremist groups in the Muslim-majority nation.

Police said the victim, named as Nikhil Chandra Joarder, 50, may have been murdered for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed several years ago.

"They came on a motorcycle and attacked him as he sat on a roadside. They hacked him on his head, neck and hand," deputy chief of Tangail district police Aslam Khan told AFP.

Police officials told AFP they were investigating whether the killing was linked to Islamist militants suspected of a series of minority killings, or was tied to a family dispute.

Bangladesh is reeling from a series of brutal attacks on members of minority faiths, secularists, foreigners and intellectuals in recent months, including two gay activists and a liberal professor in the past eight days alone.

Many of the killings have been blamed on or claimed by Islamist groups, and in several cases attackers riding motorbikes hacked the victims to death with machetes or cleavers.

Police said local Muslims had filed a complaint against Joarder, who owned a tailoring shop, to police in 2012 for making comments about the Prophet Mohammed.

He was charged with hurting religious sentiments and spent three weeks in jail.

"But the trial did not proceed after the complainants withdrew the charges," Abdul Jalil, the police chief of Gopalpur sub-district told AFP.

Another police official said that the dispute appeared to have ended peacefully, adding that the victim's family said he was also being threatened by a relative.

The murder came less than a week after suspected Islamist militants hacked to death two gay rights activists in the capital Dhaka, saying they tried to promote homosexuality in the deeply conservative nation.

In February suspected Islamists decapitated a top Hindu priest inside a temple complex in a northern district, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The IS has also claimed responsibility for a spate of recent murders of foreigners, and Sufi, Ahmadi, Shiite and Christian minorities.

However, the government denies that international Islamist groups such as IS or Al-Qaeda have a presence in the country, instead blaming homegrown militants for the killings.

The murders come amid a long-running political crisis that some suggest has radicalised opponents of the government. Analysts say Islamists now pose a growing danger in the South Asian country.

At least 30 members of religious minorities, secular activists, foreigners and intellectuals have been murdered in Bangladesh in the past three years.

Hindus, the country's largest religious minority, make up nearly 10 per cent of Bangladesh's 160 million people.

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