Catching Our Eye
Bangladeshi pastor escapes murder attempt
A Bangladeshi Baptist pastor escaped an attempt on his life today (5 Oct.) in what seemed to have been a pre-meditated attack at his home by three youths.
Luke Sarkar, 50, of the Faith Bible Church of God, told bdnews24 that two weeks ago two youths had phoned him to say they were interested in hearing his sermons. Earlier today three youths arrived by motorcycle at his home in Pabna, a town in the north-western part of the country, unannounced, and carried out the attack. “The three sat [in] the drawing room for a while. Then they suddenly attacked me and tried to slit my throat with a knife.”
Bdnews24 also said that “some radical militant group might have carried out this attack”.
The attack comes a week after an Italian aid worker was shot and killed in the capital, Dhaka, when three men rode by him on a motorcycle. On Friday 2 October, a Japanese businessman, Kunio Hoshi, 66, was shot dead in Rangpur, over 200 miles north of Dhaka, again by men on a motorcycle. A group claiming to be Islamic State claimed both deaths, and warned of continuing “security operations” against nationals of crusader coalition countries'. Locals showed photos of Mr Hoshi in the mosque, saying he'd converted to Islam three months ago.
There has been a rise in extremist Islamist violence this year in Bangladesh; four secular bloggers have been hacked to death, including a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin.
Christians form a tiny minority of the population; about 90 per cent of Bangladeshis are Muslim, with about nine per cent Hindu. Bangladesh officially has freedom of religion, but this has been gradually eroding.
Bangladesh aid worker’s death claimed by ‘IS’
An Italian working with a church-linked Dutch NGO in Dhaka has been murdered in an attack later claimed by a group which said it was Islamic State.
The fatal shooting of Caesar Tavella, 50, occurred while he was jogging after work on 28 Sep in Gulshan, the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital. According to the Bangladeshi Home Minister, “It appears to be a planned murder”.
Local eyewitnesses told police that the killers had been riding on a single motorcycle following Tavella before opening fire three times.
Tavella was a veterinary surgeon working as a project manager on food security issues for ICCO (Inter Church Coordination Committee) Cooperation, a development aid organization of Protestant churches based in the Netherlands.
The online claim of responsibility by an IS-affiliated group is being investigated by local officials and the Italian foreign ministry. The alleged IS statement warned “citizens of the crusader coalition would not be safe in Muslim nations”. If substantiated, this would be the first attack by Islamic State in Bangladesh.
“There is general apprehension with regards to the presence of the IS in Bangladesh,” Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius Gomes of Dhaka told Fides News Agency. Governments of the US, Britain, Canada and Australia issued diplomatic warnings to their citizens after the attack.
Four bloggers with secularist views have been murdered in 2015 by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh, a 90% Muslim nation ruled by a secular constitution.
Saeed Abedini completes third year in prison
Saeed Abedini has served three years of an eight-year jail sentence for alleged anti-state activities.
The American-Iranian pastor, who lived in the US with his wife, Naghmeh, and their two children, was detained in October 2012 during a visit to see his family.
After a recent visit to see him at Rajaei-Shahr Prison in Karaj, a family member said he fears new charges may be brought against him. Since his imprisonment, the government has repeatedly threatened that his sentence could be extended.
Abedini has consistently asserted that he poses no threat to the government and was in Iran to help with the building of a government-approved orphanage. Abedini says that, having been warned about his involvement with “house churches” in 2009, he had decided to focus on humanitarian activities during subsequent visits.