Italian priest fighting for his life after shot while riding bicycle

An Italian priest is seriously injured in hospital after unidentified gunmen shot him in northern Bangladesh.

Rahman's death is one of a number of attacks on non-religious writers in Bangladesh.Mostaque Chowdhury/ Wikimedia Commons

This attack is the latest in a series that have targeted foreigners in Bangladesh, which have been claimed by Islamic militants including ISIS.

Gunmen on a motorbike attacked the Priest, Piero, at close range while he was riding his bicycle in the northern city of Dinajpur, according to police.

"Riding a motorcycle, unidentified attackers shot an Italian near the Dinajpur bus station in the morning," inspector Robiul Alam told AFP by phone.

"He has been shifted to a hospital in serious condition," he said.

The police have blamed a banned local Islamist outfit for the attack, however it has similarities to previous attacks made on foreigners which have been claimed by ISIS.

An Italian aid worker was shot dead in Dhaka in Spetmeber and a Japanese famer was killed in the north of Bangladesh days later. Both attacks were carried out by three gunmen riding a motorcycle and have been claimed by ISIS.

The government of Muslim-majority Bangladesh reject the claims, insisting that there is no ISIS presence in the country.

Aged in his 60s, Piero had been based at Suihari Catholic Mission in Dinajpur for more than thirty years, according to another priest, Anthony Sen who lives in the same city.

"He is also a doctor who works at St Vincent Hospital run by the Catholic mission and at a government hospital in the city," Sen said.

The priest was "riding a bicycle at around 8am when three attackers shot him at close range", Sen said.

"One of the bullets hit his neck. He bled a lot."

Another priest, Sebastian Tudu, said Piero's eyes had also been injured: "Both his eyes have been bandaged. He may have been stabbed, but we are not sure," he told AFP.

Despite Bangladesh's government denying any ISIS infiltration into the nation, Western intelligence services and governments fear that it may be gaining a foothold in the country. Experts have said Islamists militants pose a growing threat as a long-running political crisis has led opponents of the government to be radicalised.