The killing of a 75-year-old pastor on 6 January by Islamic extremists is the latest in a series of attacks on Bangladesh minorities.
A group claiming to be the Islamic State claimed responsibility for Pastor Khaza Somiruddin’s murder, in addition to a series of killings of foreigners, death threats and attacks against Christian priests in the past few months. On 26 Oct., police arrested four men in connection with an Italian aid worker’s murder. It is not clear if any have been linked to IS-associated groups.
Bangladeshi police have said that home-grown militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen is responsible for Somiruddin’s murder with a knife, at his homeopathic practice in the western area of Jenaidah, close to the Indian border. He converted to Christianity in 2001, and in 2014 helped to lead the One Way Church of Bangladesh. He was, however, buried in the Islamic tradition because his family denied his conversion. Police and locals also objected to a Christian burial.
Before his death, Somiruddin had reported several threats from Islamic extremists for his conversion and evangelistic work.
“We are in fear now, as ‘the IS’ claimed responsibility for Pastor Khaza’s murder. [Islamist extremists] are observing all of our activities,” said the General Secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association of Jenaidah, Pikul Mahduri.