A DAESH affiliate in Bangladesh said Friday it was behind an attack on a Shiite mosque in the country's north that killed one man and wounded three others. A statement posted on DAESH-affiliated Twitter accounts from DAESH - Bangladesh said that the mosque was hit by a barrage of shots fired from machine guns. At least five assailants fired on worshippers during evening prayers Thursday at the mosque in Haripur village in the Bogra district. A mosque official in his 70s who had been leading the prayers was killed. Police on Friday detained two suspects for questioning, said local police official Arifur Rahman. He said the men were picked up from the area of the attack. Details of their identities were not clear immediately.
The statement from the DAESH offshoot said "the soldiers of the caliphate targeted a place of worship for the apostates" built with funds from Iran. It vowed more such attacks. Thursday's attack follows a wave of deadly assaults this year on foreigners, secular writers and the Shiite community in the Sunni-majority nation of 160 million. The attacks have alarmed the international community and raised concerns that religious extremism is growing in the traditionally moderate South Asian nation. Bangladesh's government has repeatedly denied the presence of DAESH in the impoverished nation. Police have arrested six members of the banned local group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, in connection with the Oct. 24 bombing of an annual rally of thousands of Shiite Muslims in Dhaka, according to senior Detective Branch official Munirul Islam. The bombs, lobbed into the crowd as people were gathering for an early morning procession through the capital, killed a teenage boy and wounded more than 100 people. Authorities had quickly dismissed a claim of responsibility by DAESH in that attack too, saying it had no presence in the country, and that the culprits were likely from Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh.
Local Shiite leader Mir Zulfiqar Ali said that there was a growing sense of fear among the community. "We are now concerned as it was the second time an attack came on us. All we can do is to condemn such attacks and ask for extra security from the government at our mosques and shrines," he told AFP. Police have pledged to step up security in the wake of the attack. "Security has been beefed up at all important Shiite installations including their mosques in Dhaka ahead of the Muslims' Friday prayer," Dhaka police spokesman Muntashirul Islam told AFP.
Security officials on Thursday killed the alleged mastermind of the Oct. 24 attack, Al Bani, during a gunfight in a Dhaka suburb, Islam said. Islam described Bani as the military commander of the group, and said he and his accomplices opened fire on security forces as they were preparing to conduct a raid.
DAESH has also claimed responsibility for the killings of two foreigners an Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural worker but again the government said DAESH has no organizational presence in the country.
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 extremism. The government accuses the opposition of trying to destabilize the country of 160 million mainly moderate Muslims. But Bangladesh has been plagued by unrest in the last three years, and experts have warned that a long-running political crisis has radicalized opponents of the government.