A 65-year-old Hindu priest was on Tuesday hacked to death in Bangladesh by three assailants who nearly severed his head, the second priest to be killed this year in the Muslim-majority nation which has seen a string of brutal attacks by Islamists on minorities and secular activists.
Ananta Gopal Ganguly was attacked at around 9:30am by three bike-borne men who slit his throat with sharp-edged weapons in the western Jhinaigah district's Noldanga village, Assistant Superintendent of Police Gopinath Kanjilal said, adding that suspected militants carried out the murder.
Police said they have recovered the body and sent it for an autopsy. An investigation was launched into the incident. The near-decapitated body of the priest was discovered by farmers at a farmland near his home.
Ganguly, who was a priest at the Noldanga temple in Sadar upazila, was on his way to the temple riding a bicycle to offer prayers when the unidentified assailants struck. They first shot him and then hacked him to death to make sure that he was dead.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the cause behind the murder was not known.
There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.
On Sunday, a Christian businessman was hacked to death by unidentified machete-wielding men near a church, hours after the wife of a top anti-terror police officer was shot dead by religious extremists.
In February, militants stabbed to death a Hindu priest at a temple in Bangladesh and shot and wounded a devotee who went to his aid.
In April, a liberal professor was brutally hacked to death by machete-wielding ISIS militants who slit his throat near his home in Rajshahi city. In the same month, a Hindu tailor was also hacked to death by ISIS militants in his shop and Bangladesh's first gay magazine editor was brutally murdered along with a friend in his flat in Dhaka by Islamists.
The ISIS and al-Qaeda in Indian Peninsula have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks although the government denies their presence in Bangladesh.