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.