DHAKA: The militant Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on Friday for a deadly attack on worshippers at a Shia mosque in northern Bangladesh.

US-based monitoring organisation SITE reported that the group, which has claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks in Bangladesh, said it had targeted the Shia worshippers.

Gunmen burst into the mosque in Shibganj, about 200 kilometres north of Dhaka, during evening prayers on Thursday and opened fire on the worshippers before fleeing.

“Allah enabled the soldiers of the Islamic State in Bangladesh to target” a Shia mosque, SITE quoted IS as saying.

Police said the muezzin had been killed and three worshippers wounded in the shooting. It was a rare attack on Shias in the mainly Sunni nation.

Detectives say they are questioning two people over the shooting, although they had not been formally arrested.

Such attacks were until recently virtually unheard of in Bangladesh, which has a large population of mostly moderate Muslims but has suffered a recent upsurge in militancy.

The government says the militant group has no presence in Bangladesh and instead accuses the opposition of trying to destabilise the country of 160 million Muslims.

But Bangladesh has been plagued by unrest in the last three years, and experts have warned that a long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2015

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