Sufi Muslim leader hacked to death in Bangladesh

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A Sufi Muslim spiritual leader was hacked to death in Bangladesh, the latest in a flurry of similar attacks across the country, police said Saturday.

The body of 55-year-old Mohammad Shahidullah was recovered in a mango orchard in Tanore, located in the country’s Rajshahi district, according to Mohammad Nisharul Arif, superintendent of the district police.

Police recovered the body on information and sent it to Rajshahi Medical College for post-mortem examination.

Arif said Shahidullah was murdered as he left a meeting organized by his disciples. Shahidullah calls himself a pir, a term for a Sufi spiritual guide.

His body bore the hallmarks of previous attacks carried out by radical Islamist activists, including deep cuts on the shoulder and with his throat slit.

However, police are not sure “if the murder had any link to the previous murders of bloggers, secular activists and pirs,” Arif said.

Mohammad Shahidullah is the son of late Habibur Rahman of Mohanandakhali area of Nouhata under Poba Upazila.
He was a follower of Pir Imam Mahdi from Goalanda in Rajbari district.

The victim’s son Russel Ahmed filed a case with Tanor police yesterday morning. He mentioned that his father had land-related conflict with Shajahan and Piar Ali of Nouhata for over the last decade.

Last week, attackers wielding machetes hacked and killed Hindu tailor Nikhil Joarder in the central district of Tangail.

Three people were detained for questioning, including one from the opposition BNP party and a local leader of Jamaat e Islami party.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the non-governmental counter-terror monitoring organization SITE.

Tangail Police Superintendent Mohammed Tanvir said a complaint was filed against Joarder in 2012 for allegedly making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed. Joarder was then arrested and released after spending a few weeks in jail, police said.

Despite the apparent claim of responsibility by ISIS, authorities said they didn’t know “if there is a link between the murder and the comments he made in 2012,” Tanvir said. He said police were aware of the claim but that it was “premature” to comment on it.

The government of Bangladesh is accusing the country’s two main opposition parties, the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, of being behind the assassinations.

Also last week, two LGBT activists, one of whom also worked for the USAID, an American government organization for poverty prevention, were hacked to death in Dhaka.

Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladeshi division of al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, has claimed responsibility for the killings.

These killings follow the deaths of several others in Bangladesh since 2013, including bloggers and the hacking death of a professor at a bus stop April 23.

The professor, 58-year-old Rezaul Karim Siddique, was an English teacher at Rajshahi University.

ISIS claimed responsibility for Siddique’s death, saying he was slain “for calling to atheism.”

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