Bangladesh priest hacked to death while gathering flowers

Updated 3:31 PM EDT, Fri July 1, 2016
Bangladeshi secular activists take part in a torch-lit protest against the killing of blogger Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, in Dhaka on August 8, 2015.  Dhaka vowed August 8 to hunt down the killers of secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarti who became the fourth such writer to be murdered in Bangladesh by suspected Islamist militants this year. AFP PHOTO/ Munir uz ZAMAN        (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Bangladeshi secular activists take part in a torch-lit protest against the killing of blogger Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, in Dhaka on August 8, 2015. Dhaka vowed August 8 to hunt down the killers of secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarti who became the fourth such writer to be murdered in Bangladesh by suspected Islamist militants this year. AFP PHOTO/ Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

The 52-year-old victim was gathering flowers when he was attacked

A witness said three men were involved in the killing

(CNN) —  

A Hindu priest was hacked to death at his temple in Bangladesh’s southwestern district of Jhenaidah early Friday, police said.

It is the latest incident in a wave of suspected religious-based murders, despite a nationwide crackdown by the Bangladeshi government, including the arrest of more than 14,000 people.

The victim was Shyamananda Das, a 52-year-old priest.

He was gathering flowers, likely to be offered in prayers at the Sri Sri Radha Madan Gopal Bigrohomot temple, when the attack took place, Gopinath Kanjilal, Assistant Superintendent of Police of Jhenaidah district, Sador circle told CNN.

“Three men rode up on one bicycle. They were wearing helmets. They jumped off, attacked the priest, and then rushed away,” Kanjilal said, citing one witness account.

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The alleged killers used what is locally known as “chapatti”— a long, heavy knife that is often described as a machete.

Kanjilal added that the attack is similar to others in a long, ongoing spate of murders across Bangladesh that’s taken the lives of secular bloggers, academics, as well as religious minorities.

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The government launched an anti-militant drive across the Muslim-majority nation last month to stamp out the murders, but many of those detained are believed to be ordinary criminals and not Islamic extremists.

Second priest to be targeted in a month

The victim is the second Hindu priest to be murdered in the Jhenaidah district within a month.

On June 7, Anando Gopal Ganguly, 70, was on his way to his temple when he was hacked to death.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder shortly after. The terror group issued a worldwide call to arms during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

However, Bangladeshi authorities have long denied the presence of the terror group in the country.

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Kanjilal told CNN Friday that he thought Anando Gopal Ganguly’s murder was orchestrated by the Islami Chattra Shibir (ICS), a student wing of Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh.

There has been no formal claim of responsibility in the hacking death of Shyamananda Das.