Key interfaith leader stabbed in Bangladesh

A leading member of a major inter-religious forum in Bangladesh has been critically wounded in a knife attack outside his house, according to police.

Religious minority groups say the attack is a retaliation to the execution of an Islamist leader by the government earlier this week.

Alok Sen, 58, was attacked by two masked assailants with knives outside his home in Faridpur, outside the capital, Dhaka yesterday.

Mostaque Chowdhury/ Wikimedia Commons

Sen is a Hindu and was secretary of the local unit of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council.

"Two people knocked on his door at about 3:30pm and started stabbing him when he came outside," said Nazimmudin Ahmed, officer in-charge at Kotwali police station.

"The attackers fled when neighbours came to rescue [Sen] after hearing his screams," he said.

He is now in hospital in Dhaka suffering from serious injuries, according to Dr Asit Ranjan Das, chief government medical officer.

Police are yet to determine the motive behind the stabbing. The Bangladesh Hindu Christian Unity Council has condemned the attack:

"We don't want to speculate about who carried out the attack. But we want the government to conduct a proper investigation and find the culprits and punish them," said Rana Dasgupta, the council's secretary general.

Many among religious minority groups have said the attack could be linked to the recent execution of Islamist leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, according to UCA News, as the forum is considered to support the ruling Awami League party.

Mujaheed was hanged on 22nd November for war crimes committed in the 1971 Bangladesh war of independence from Pakistan. He was the former secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami, a hardline Islamist party.

"Those opposed to the war crime trials carried out the attack. It is because minorities were victims of abuse during the war, and have testified in cases resulting in the death penalty for war criminals," said Nirmol Rozario, the Catholic secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association.

This attack comes in the wake of a series of attacks and killings by Islamic extremists; four secular bloggers and publishers have been murdered and three injured in a machete attack, an Italian aid worker and Japanese man were shot dead, and a Protestant pastor and an Italian Catholic priest survived attacks this year.