Bangladesh arrests Islamists over Hindu priest's murder


Bangladesh has arrested three more Islamist militants over the murder of a top Hindu priest, the latest in a series of attacks on religious minorities in the Muslim-majority nation. Police said the three members of the banned militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were arrested in the northern district of Panchagarh where the attack took place, with weapons in their possession.

Three people have already been arrested over the murder of Jogeswar Roy, who was attacked by two unknown men armed with pistols and cleavers at a temple last Sunday.

"We are near to an end of a successful investigation over this killing," divisional police chief Humayun Kabir told journalists. "Two other men were also involved, we hope to arrest them very soon."

Police earlier arrested two other JMB members and an activist with Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's largest Islamist political party. The Islamic State group has issued a claim of responsibility according to US-based monitoring organisation SITE. But Bangladesh, which has repeatedly denied the group has any presence in the country, rejects the claim.

Bangladesh has seen an upsurge in attacks by Islamist militant groups on minorities including Christians and Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government has blamed the attacks on the JMB and other local militant groups and accuses the political opposition of trying to destabilise the country.

A long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government and analysts say Islamist extremists pose a growing danger.

Hindus, the country's largest minority, make up nearly 10 percent of Bangladesh's 160 million people.    (AFP)

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