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Bangladesh: Hindu man hacked to death in Pabna

Killing in northwestern district is latest attack on religious minorities just days after launch of police crackdown.

Nityaranjan Pande in Pabna

Unidentified attackers have hacked to death a 62-year-old Hindu monastery worker in Bangladesh, police say, the latest in a series of such attacks on religious minorities in the mainly Muslim country.

Friday's killing of Nityaranjan Pande, in the northwestern district of Pabna, follows the murder of a Hindu priest on Tuesday.

"As he was walking, several attackers hacked him in the neck ... He died on the spot," Abdullah Al-Hasan, the local police station chief, told AFP news agency.

"As a diabetic, he used to take a walk early in the morning. He had been working at the monastery for around 40 years. In recent years he was the head of its office [Shri Shri Thakur Anukulchandra Ashram] staff."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Analysts say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of religious hate crimes.

The government blames the growing violence on its political opponents, aiming to create chaos and prevent war crimes trials for incidents that date back to 1971 from going ahead.

The opposition party denies the accusations.

In the past four days, Bangladesh police have shot dead five suspected attackers, as they step up their hunt for those who have killed at least 30 people in the past 16 months.

Victims of the attacks have included secular bloggers, gay rights activists and followers of minority religions.

Most of the latest attacks have been claimed either by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group or by a South Asian branch of al-Qaeda.

At least 10 Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen members have been killed in gun battles since November after the killing of two foreigners, according to the police.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen had laid low since six of its leaders were hanged in 2007 for attacks that included 500 bomb explosions on a single day in 2005.

Subsequent suicide attacks on courts killed 25 people and wounded hundreds.

Reward for information

Last month, police announced a 1.8m taka ($23,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of six members of Ansarullah Bangla Team, the second outlawed group they believe is behind the violence.

Sheikh Hasina's government has, however, blamed homegrown attackers, rejecting claims of responsibility from ISIL, also known as ISIS, and al-Qaeda.

Around 90 percent of Bangladesh's 160 million-strong population is Muslim, with 8 percent Hindu.

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