DHAKA: Gunmen opened fire during evening prayers at a Shia mosque in Bangladesh on Thursday, killing one person and wounding three, police said — the second attack on the country's tiny Shia Muslim community.
The shooting in northwestern Bogra district came a day after police killed a top militant, the main suspect behind last month's bombing of a shrine that left two people dead and wounded dozens.
“The attackers entered the mosque and opened fire on the devotees after locking the main gate and then fled immediately after the shooting,” police official Ahsan Habib said.
Witnesses said three young attackers stormed into the mosque and shot at worshippers indiscriminately when they were praying.
Bangladesh has seen a rise in militant violence in recent months, with two foreigners, four secular writers and a publisher killed this year. Some of the attacks have been claimed by the hard-line militants of Islamic State (IS).
The government rejects those claims and says local militants are involved in the killings. Critics say the government is whipping up "a climate of fear" to go after its political rivals.
IS also claimed responsibility for the bombing on the Shia shrine in Dhaka on October 24, the first such attack on the Shia community in the country.
Police said on Thursday home-grown militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen was behind the attack and arrested five members of the banned outfit while main suspect, the head of the military wing of the group, was killed in a gunfight last night.
“They were involved in various subversive activities including attacks on a police checkpoint and Muslim gatherings during Ashura,” Police joint commissioner Monirul Islam told a news conference as the men were brought out in handcuffs.
Tensions have risen since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched a crackdown on militants, putting several leaders on trial for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence.