Five men have been arrested following the knife attack on a Protestant pastor in Bangladesh last week.

Luke Sarkar, 50, pastor of the Faith Bible Church in Pabna, received cuts to his throat during the attack on 5 October at his home.

The five men are all suspected members of a banned Islamist group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahedin Bangladesh, reports UCA News.

The attack came a week after an Italian aid worker was shot and killed in Dhaka and just a few days after Japanese businessman Kunio Hoshi, 66, was shot dead in Rangpur, 200 miles north of Dhaka. A group claiming to be Islamic State claimed both deaths and warned of continuing “security operations against nationals of crusader coalition countries”. However, the government has denied the existence of Islamic State fighters in the country and said the latest attack was just “an attempt to destabilize the country and put the government under pressure”.

“It is frustrating to see a Christian pastor is attacked while the government continues to claim there are no militant and [Islamic State] activities in the country,” said Bishop Gervas Rozario, chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission. “In Bangladesh, the Christian community was previously targeted when Western powers attacked Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. We are afraid this is retaliation for war in the Middle East.”